Club turns masks to bricks

By Abdullah Al Fahad, Rotaract Club of Dhaka Orchid, Bangladesh

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with a new environmental challenge. Every month, more than 120 billion disposable masks and gloves are being thrown out, with some of them polluting our land and water.

Our Rotaract club, like many, is concerned about the environment. Emboldened by Rotary’s newest cause, protecting the environment, we decided to do something about this problem. We began a recycling effort which we called our Clean Earth project to collect masks that were littering our streets, parking lots, and other common areas and find a way to reuse them.

A member of the club collects discarded masks.
A member of the club collects discarded masks.

Medical experts have said that the virus can survive up to three days on an object. We place the masks that we pick up in a locked room for three days. Then we bleach them and wash them with detergent over a period of 24 hours. We dry them in sunlight, then tear them into smaller pieces and mix them with cement. We use this mixture to create planting containers filled with soil, which we plant trees inside.

We have also made bricks with the mixture and find it stronger than regular bricks. We are planning to use the bricks to build toilets in rural areas. We are working with other clubs to expand our effort, perhaps creating a recycling center where people could bring their used masks, and we could employ other people to help us turn them into bricks and other products.

As much as 13 millon tons of plastic makes it way into our oceans every year. Masks often contain plastics such as polypropylene with a lifespan of hundreds of years. Rotary members are creative and innovative, and we are sure that with some thought, other clubs could join us in finding ways to convert glove and mask waste into usable commodities. Let’s protect this planet of ours while we embrace Rotary’s newest cause.

Learn more about how Rotary is protecting the environment.

Food bags fill void left by pandemic

By Roger Bjoroy-KarlsenRotary Club of RoatanBay Islands, Honduras

Iam on a small boat fully loaded with food bags headed for the people of St. Helene, a small island about two miles long and one mile wide, separated by a canal from the island of Roatan. Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands located off the northern coast of Honduras.

As the waves are striking our boat, my thoughts wander to the approximate 1,000 people in 218 households who are in need of the food we’re delivering. Many of whom have no income because they lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Helene has no roads and no infrastructure. Its people are descendants of African slaves brought by the British to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands who then migrated to Roatan after gaining their freedom in the 1830’s.

Last year they got electricity for the first time. And 14 months ago, as the first part of a Rotary global grant, members completed a fresh water project. Phase two of the grant has been approved.

We landed on a Friday in September 2020 at a dock that was built by grant money and the effort of Rotary members. Our trip could not have happened without funds from the Rotary Club of Oakville Trafalgar (Ontario, Canada) and the Rotary Club of Evergreen (Colorado, USA).

  • 600 masks
  • 250 face shields
  • bags with food for roughly 30 days


In addition to the food, we provided 600 N95 masks and 250 face shields to residents of St. Helene thanks to a donation from Michael McCarry of Mount Sinai Hospitals in New York City, New York. A special thanks to Sterling Lucas and his boat captains who brought us to the island.

The islanders received their bags of provisions as they were checked off of a list. They then loaded into their boats and flipped up their umbrellas and went back to their homes either by sea or along crooked paths around the island. The bags will provide each family with enough food to live on for about a month.

It was great to see their renewed hope for the future as the supplies gave them the ability to look beyond this pandemic. This is what Rotary is about, Service Above Self and bringing new hope to parts of the world.

Learn more about how Rotary is responding to the pandemic and collaborating to advance vaccination drives.