Better Men and Flower Face Masks

Authors: Liam Clifford, Kate Savin
  • Reading time: 5 min.
  • Posted on: April 13, 2021

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the bad, and the one to watch in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting the highs and lows of campaigns that challenge men to be better and face masks that become flowers.

| NAILED IT: Don’t be a dick

In the wake of the Sarah Everard vigils and police crackdown, we’ve seen activists turn their energy to addressing the root cause of the problem — educating men. Fueled by intense public frustration, multiple campaigns are launching, all aiming to capture attention, get the message out and challenge men to do better.

Our favourite so far is the Give Her Space initiative (@giveher_space), created by Sophie Szilady and Sophia Johnson of ad agency The Brooklyn Brothers after they grew sick of systemic sexual harassment.

Created with London artist Dave Buonaguidi, their bright, tongue-in-cheek typographic posters are putting their message directly out on high streets to remind men of the golden rule — ’don’t be a dick’.

Simple but effective. The posters have already turned up in 150 locations in London, Bristol and Brighton, with more on the way. Photo credit: @giveher_space

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Good guys miss the mark

They can’t all be winners. On the other side of the coin, there’ve been a few campaigns that we’ve felt missed the mark. Our frontrunner is this, from M&C Saatchi — the slightly cringe-inducingly named ‘Good Guys Guide’. 

The focus is on teaching men who consider themselves to be ‘good guys’ ways to be courteous to women by understanding how their own presence can be perceived as threatening or dangerous. Tips to be shared on billboards include basic actions like crossing the road, losing their hoods and not approaching a woman on her own, all illustrated by ‘helpful’ photography. 

The problem is that the campaign’s positivity comes off overly saccharine and trite. Its heart might be in the right place, but we’re not convinced by the tone, here — at this point, with the weight of deaths like Sarah Everard’s in all-too-recent memory, we’re not sure whether practicing basic empathy for women should be met with a pat on the back and an “Aw, well done, mate.” Photo credit: @good_guys_guide

| ONE TO WATCH: The new innovations in sustainable PPE 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic an estimated 129 billion face masks have been used each month around the world. In London alone, the North London Waste Authority estimates 13 million disposable face masks are being thrown away each week. Whilst masks are an essential element in the fight against the virus, according to one study there are now more masks in the ocean than jellyfish. 

Buying reusable, non-plastic masks is one way to limit this crisis, but what about a mask that actually benefits wildlife? Look no further than Marie Bee Bloom masks. The brainchild of Danish graphic designer Marianne de Groot-Pons, they’re made from 100% biodegradable rice paper, and are embedded with flower seeds. Once you’re done with the mask, just plant it in some soil and let local bees enjoy the result.

What about the single-use mask hanging around at the bottom of your bag? Don’t put it in the bin! Last month the high street chain Wilko launched an in-store recycling scheme specifically for single-use masks, in partnership with ReWorked and Scan2Recycle. Masks are sent to Reworked’s recycling factory in Yorkshire, where they are upcycled into furniture and building materials.

Single-use PPE is the newest threat to our ocean ecosystem, and will inevitably affect us all as microplastics from these masks enter the food chain. Save lives and protect the environment with reusable masks, and recycle or dispose of your masks properly when you’re done with them. Photo credit: @mariebeebloom