Anthony Lee - Jan 01 2020
Innovative Solutions to the worlds Plastic Problem
Has it ever crossed your mind that every toothbrush you have ever owned is still on earth somewhere? That the majority of the toys you played with and the shoes you wore are still here and taking up space? Or that every single bag of groceries you ever brought into your home still exists, just out of your sight?While the idea of getting to play with some of your old childhood toys may sound fun, the truth is that we all face a major challenge when it comes to plastic pollution. This problem is ours to fix and it is our responsibility to get it right.Our oceans are particularly susceptible to plastic pollution. Much of our plastic waste ends up in our water system and it makes its way out to the ocean. There it affects all marine life: plants, mammals, fish and every other sea creature. 12.7 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year! To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of over 5,000,000 Tesla Model S cars. That means that 800 pounds of plastic waste (the weight of 40,000 empty plastic water bottles) is dumped into the ocean every second of every minute of every hour of every day.
What Can Be Done About the Plastic Pollution and Ocean Plastic Problem?
The first step to any type of progress is awareness. After awareness comes a desire to act. Next comes planning and last comes action. To tackle the ocean plastic and plastic pollution problem, you need to first stop making the problem worse. Small habits make a difference. Use the least amount of plastic possible. Recycle everything that can be recycled. Make sure you are reusing and upcycling whatever you can.These are helpful but these problems need large scale solutions. These companies and initiatives are making a real difference in the fight against plastic pollution.
Plastics continue to play an integral part in almost every part of modern life. So, how do we stop the continuous flow of plastic into the oceans and landfills? Create plastics out of decomposable materials! If we need the materials, let’s make them harmless to the environment.
Many companies are turning to bioplastics as a way to create products that work and will be returned to the ecosystem by breaking down. Companies like Evoware are using seaweed (that is sourced locally!) to create everything from wrapping paper to packaging. They were able to sea-weed need a solution… and they delivered.
2. Reduce or eliminate your seafood consumption
This is a simple thing that anyone can do to help reduce the amount of plastic waste in the ocean. As it turns out, the vast majority of the plastic waste (45-70% of microplastic by weight) in the ocean is the result of commercial fishing enterprises.
Nets and discarded fishing materials are left in the ocean where they continue to catch fish and hurt wildlife but also break down to ever smaller pieces. Every dollar you spend is a vote on who you want to succeed in business so by refraining or limiting your seafood consumption, you are eliminating the need for more commercial fishing.
3. Use recycled plastics to build roads
MacRebur is an innovative company out of the UK that has taken a novel approach to keep plastics out of landfills. They take plastics that are unrecyclable, the single-use plastics, and use them in the construction of new roads. They have developed a process where they mix them into the road materials, locking them into the road and out of the landfill for good,
This is an ingenious approach to this problem and you could say that they have laid the groundwork for many more innovations to come!
4. Turn Plastic into Bricks for Construction
Another innovator in the sector of repurposing plastics is Nzambi Matee. The company she founded, Gjenge Makers, uses different types of plastic waste to create bricks for construction. Not only are these suitable for construction but they are also 5-7 harder than concrete!
Her factory produces around 1500 bricks per day, which is an impressive feat for a stand-alone operation. If scaled to its full potential, this innovation alone could decrease the amount of plastic pollution and ocean plastics drastically.
5. Use Products That are Made from Recycled Plastic
Not all products are created equal and neither are all companies. If you want to see the dollars you spend go to great lengths to make a difference, it pays to do your homework. Companies now have the ability to harness recycling processes to make more eco-friendly and sustainable products.
Parrotfish is a swimwear and clothing brand that uses recycled plastics as the base material for their swimwear. This allows you to purchase products you need while reducing your footprint on the environment and looking damn good at the same time!