Crema Joe's Ear Savers Finds New Purpose For Hard-To-Recycle Plastic Caps

by Rudy Sanchez on 09/03/2020 | 3 Minute Read

A common complaint about wearing masks—that isn’t about how they’re used by the government to control everyone—is that they are uncomfortable on the ears. The front of the mask is in a constant tug-of-war, pulling them towards the wearer’s face and causing irritation.

With folks looking for a more comfortable option that fits properly, ear savers arrived; it’s an uncomplicated device used with a mask to relieve the pressure off the ears. They are a simple affair, a skinny piece of molded plastic with hooks running along two sides onto which the mask’s ear loops attach, offering respite for folks having to wear masks for prolonged periods such as frontline and essential workers.

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Of course, it’s one more piece of plastic created in response to the coronavirus, making it hard to justify buying one just for some additional comfort. That is until now.

Recently, Australian firm Crema Joe started a recycling and collection program for hard-to-recycle items, such as bottle caps, in partnership with Precious Plastic Melbourne. As a result, they started producing their own ear savers made from the collected plastic caps.

“They're particularly useful for hearing aid and hijab wearers too,” says Kayla Mossuto, co-founder of Crema Joe. “The downside is, whether mass-produced or 3D-printed, ear savers get made from virgin plastic.”

Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph

And that’s where the sustainable ear saver became a reality, as they’ve made it their mission to find eco-friendly solutions. “We felt a strong urge to do something to combat the environmentally detrimental effects of Covid-19,” says Kayla. “After reading story after story around the waste coming out of the current pandemic, we felt like we needed to contribute in some sort of positive way.”

Crema Joe was already providing sustainable and reusable alternatives to single-use coffee pods, reducing the environmental impact of that morning coffee or tea. Their packaging is also sustainable, using recycled and recyclable materials that they encourage customers to repurpose. The firm also collects reusable shipping materials and extends the life of items such as cardboard boxes and shipping peanuts. 

Editorial photograph
Editorial photograph

Cream Joe’s ear savers are available in four sizes and three color options, but each one produced is unique, with slight variations in patterns and shades for each piece made from the collected bottle caps. The packaging for the ear savers is plastic-free as well.

While it might seem like ear savers are relatively easy to produce, Crema Joe and Precious Plastic Melbourne did run into some technical and design hurdles, while also navigating the same global pandemic handicaps as everyone else.

“The biggest challenge was getting the initial mold right. The mold we have now settled on is version 4, Kayla says. “There was a lot of trial and error, mostly based on experimenting with the internal flow of the plastic into the mold, as the piece itself is quite long and flat.

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“Each individual piece takes time to produce,” she adds. “We're juggling lockdown, our businesses, and a 4-year-old, so we're extremely time-poor! A lot of love goes into every single ear saver, so keeping up with demand has been challenging. Perhaps a good problem to have!”

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