Practical Solutions to Plastic Pollution
Today, we are largely dependent on plastic and our modern world is almost inconceivable without this material. Durable and moldable, plastic has contributed to notable progress in many industries, but at the same time, generated tons of trash that ultimately end up in our world’s oceans. In order to tackle the increasing plastic pollution, individuals and companies around the globe are developing sustainable and cleaner alternatives to our everyday plastic products. Here are a few of them with promising changes for our future.
The United States uses 500 million drinking straws every day according to Eco-cycle’s Be Straw Free Campaign. Similarly to other disposable plastic products, straws are used for a few minutes but live for hundreds of years. There’s an abundance of alternative materials (steel, paper, bamboo, glass, straw) that can make drinking straws that do not compromise by any means the sipping experience. The company Lollistraw gets even more creative by developing edible drinking straws with seaweed!
Biodegradable Water Bottle
Assuming that bottled water is safer than tap water, Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles in a year, as reported by the Ban the Bottle campaign. Although recyclable, only a low percentage of them have the privilege of a new life. Reusable water bottles are, without contest, the best eco-friendly solution to this problem. Buy one once, and refill as needed from taps or hydration stations. But for bottled water lovers, an Irelandic Product Designer, Ari Jónsson, uses algal to create a 100% biodegradable water bottle that accounts zero secondary effect on the ecosystem. In an article backed by convincing pictures, BoredPanda reported that the bottle begins to decompose once it’s empty. If disposable water bottles are very unlikely to disappear in a near future, the adoption of this natural and biodegradable alternative would be a giant leap towards a cleaner world.
Compostable Food Packaging
Taking restaurant leftovers home is often a dilemma. While it’s a responsible act to save food, you’re accumulating disposable plastic bags and styrofoam clamshells that almost never decompose. Similarly, environmental activists are often annoyed by the excess of plastic packaging at their local grocery stores. Be Green, a company based in North Carolina, wants to change this by developing compostable packaging for the food market and other industries as well. Their molded fiber packaging decomposes like a fruit peel when released in nature after usage. Be Green also guarantees that its products are as safe for people as the environment.
Ocean Cleanup Project
While the companies above simply aim to reduce plastic waste, a Dutch inventor and entrepreneur, Boyan Slat, tackles plastic pollution at a whole new level. The 24-year old man runs The Ocean Cleanup Foundation which, as its name sounds, plans to rid the world’s oceans of plastic. Slat is targeting the five biggest garbage patches, and according to computer prediction, he will be able to make the ocean plastic free by 2050. Slat’s seemingly crazy idea came up when he was on a trip in Greece and he “could see more plastic bags than fish on [his] scuba dive”. This is just amazing that this young man and his crew want to repair the careless mistakes of several generations!
Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2021
Photo thanks to Pixabay