PMHS student creates new business recycling masks into hair ties


A box to drop surgical masks for recycling at the Pelham Picture House.

Scarlett Bratone needed a hair tie one day and grabbed the string from a surgical mask. That gave her the idea to recycle masks to create hair ties and scrunchies. Thus was born her new business, New Ties.

Bratone, a junior at Pelham Memorial High School, had been seeing surgical masks everywhere—0n the ground, in the trash and other places that will cause the masks to end up in landfills. They are already an environmental problem.

According to the New Ties website, “In an article from the New York Post, it says that more than 1.5 billion masks and approximately 3% of all masks created just this year are expected to end up in the ocean. The other 97% will, in the best case scenario, end up in already saturated landfills.”

Bratone’s first step in building her business is to collect masks. They can be donated at New Ties boxes at the entrances to PMHS and the Pelham Picture House. She plans to disinfect them with a UV light and create the hair ties.

The ties are not ready to be purchased yet.

“I just want everyone to know that right now I’m collecting,” said Bratone. “The best thing everyone can do to help is to donate. Pick up the masks from their rooms, desks, backpacks and pockets and just donate them.”

When the hair ties are ready, they likely will be sold in packs. Bratone plans to open an online shop or sell the ties at events in town. All profits will go to the Environmental Defense Fund.

The New Ties Instagram account is