Behind Our No-Touch Key

By: Angela Luna

Since the end of March, we had been brainstorming as to what other items we could develop that would be responsive and useful during the time of covid. We introduced our face masks when access to facial covers and hand sanitizer was limited, but understood and identified other key moments of fear and potential exposure while going outside and wanted to develop solutions. It really brought us back to the reason ADIFF was founded: designing solutions for global crises through the fashion industry.

After donating masks to the frontlines, we wanted to create additional responsive items on the homefront to help prevent our community from coming into contact with the virus. The first thing we sought to do was lay out the problems and conduct market research to better understand the concerns of our customers. We quickly learned that everyone was basically afraid of any touchpoints in public, from doors, to merchandise and fixtures, etc., in every possible place (from stores and restaurants, to public transit, to offices). At the same time, people were most concerned about coming into contact with covid through their hands or personal items, including phones, wallets, bags, and keys.

There are many possible design interventions for all of these issues, but the first one that acts as the literal gateway to all of the other issues was the door. What could we develop that would take care of this pivotal touchpoint for our customers and present an affordable, easy solution?

From the end of March through May, we were reaching out to suppliers online to see how we could create a unique key chain that would act as a hook to open doors, and have a point at the end to press buttons. We started to see some interventions coming out from brands that specialize in consumer goods, but nothing yet from the fashion industry. We had an inherent understanding that silver and brass were antimicrobial metals, but wanted to better understand which metals were best for combating covid-19.

As more studies were conducted and articles were released, we were able to learn about the amazing properties of copper. According to The Smithsonian, “The SARS-CoV-2 virus endures for days on plastic or metal but disintegrates soon after landing on copper surfaces.” Bill Keevil, a microbiology researcher at the University of Southampton (U.K.), claims that covid cells are destroyed within minutes when coming into contact with copper. As opposed to stainless steel, which looks very clean and does have some clean properties, copper disinfects by just being there and existing.

Insider states that copper is so deadly to viruses because it “disrupts bacterial cell membrane, damaging cell membranes and destroying the DNA or RNA of the microbe.” Insider also reports that after 4 hours of coming into contact with copper, covid is no longer contagious — compared to it surviving on plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours.

Also, Fast Company has shown that when coronavirus comes into contact with copper, it dies within minutes and is undetectable after a few hours. Unlike other materials, copper is capable of destroying the virus completely and can self-sterilize without bleach or electricity. While many public systems and hospitals have switched to stainless steel over the years, even when brass (alloy of 67% copper and 33% zinc) is tarnished, it will still kill bacteria, while steel does little to stop bacteria’s growth.

After this research, it seemed that copper was our best choice.

Finally after weeks of sourcing, we were able to find the right fit with a supplier. Last week we introduced our no-touch key, a copper keychain that is designed to help you open doors, turn locks, and push buttons. Made from copper, the key is known to kill covid upon contact, and can be easily disinfected or wiped down if needed. It is also a more sustainable alternative to wearing latex gloves in order to open doors or push buttons. We’ve seen reports from medical professionals saying that wearing latex gloves improperly (meaning wearing the gloves to perform numerous tasks and cross-contaminating yourself and your items) is more dangerous than wearing no gloves and washing your hands with soap and hot water as soon as possible.

While disposable latex gloves may be a solution with responsible use, for daily tasks such as going outside to check the mail or pick up your food delivery, running to the neighborhood bodega, or opening doors in your office building, our no-touch key is a sustainable and responsible solution.

This is just the beginning of the responsive pieces we hope to release during covid. A lot of our plans for this year have been postponed or cancelled, but we are grateful for the opportunity to provide actual solutions that will make your life better and safer, and are [begrudgingly] thankful for the reminder as to what started ADIFF. We will continue to do our best to design solutions during times of crisis, while creating better systems for people and the environment within the fashion industry.

functional clothing for style and survival | wherever you find yourself

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