Our Oceans Are Screaming for Help, So Science Found How to Fix It
Eating plastic has become a reality thanks to the level of water pollution our oceans are facing right now. Marine animals consume the polluted water and this eventually changes the food chain — and not to our advantage. However, science continues to come up with ideas of how to rescue the environment. From degradable products to plastic consuming machines, science knows no rest! At the same time, nature keeps up and creates its own ways of fighting pollution like with organisms that can consume it!
Bright Side is concerned about our oceans and is trying to find any way to help them. Today, we want to get you acquainted with the latest inventions that can help to save our planet, and we hope you will want to join us in this effort. As a bonus, we’ve added a small video to the article, showing what consequences our inaction might have.
1. Fungus that eats plastic
Nature never fails to amaze us in its fight to live. This means than in any environmental condition, it tries to adapt. This time, nature decided to recycle plastic itself, literally.
In Pakistan, researchers found a new kind of fungus that can eat and degrade plastic. Earlier this year scientists also discovered a wax worm that can degrade plastic as well. The plastic structure is similar to natural beeswax which makes it possible for a worm to eat it.
2. BabyLegs: a DIY device to monitor plastic in water
Microplastic comes to the oceans from many sources, and its presence won’t go unnoticed. Fish and people who eat it suffer from microplastics as it damages the whole eco-system.
To monitor its presence in the water, a special device was created. It’s simple yet effective and is made of baby’s tights, soda pop bottles, and other inexpensive, easy-to-find materials. The device helps to find floating plastic in the water of your local rivers, lakes or anything bigger. Once the testing is done, you’ll know if the water is safe or if you need to take action to try and salvage it.
3. A bottle-crushing sand machine
Sand is a widely used material in modern production for things like mortar, plaster, concrete, asphalt, etc. The easiest way to collect it is to gather beach sand in bulk. As a result, beaches become impoverished and together with the plants and animals, they lose their protection.
DB Breweries, a company from New Zealand, decided to help solve this issue. They invented a beer bottle crusher that turns glass beer bottles into — you guessed it — sand! The final product will be distributed to commercial organizations instead of the beach.
4. Edible Avani bags help solve ocean pollution
Almost everything is wrapped in plastic bags, even the tiniest things. And such packaging surely has a big impact on the environment. Avani, a company from Bali, wants to change this situation, and they presented the world with a great, eco-friendly solution.
They look and feel the same as ordinary plastic bags, the only difference is that they are fully made of bio-based materials. They are biodegradable and even edible, so they can be a treat to marine animals if thrown away in the water. Some big companies like Heineken have already noticed Avani and are cooperating with them.
5. Technology that turns plastic waste into fuel
A British company called Recycling Technologies suggests their own plan to fix the plastic pollution problem. Their machine cracks plastic by heating it and converting it into 3 types of oil. Later, these different oils can be used for industrial purposes like for petrochemical companies, ship engines, and shoe polishing products.
Though the machine itself is huge and takes up a lot of space, it can convert 7,000 tons of plastic into 5,000 tons of oil. The final product is called Plaxx.
6. Smart fishing nets
When fishing nets get lost in the sea, they never disappear without a trace. They instantly become so-called “ghost nets” and keep doing their job but in a very harmful way. Not only do they catch and trap marine animals, but they also break hard and soft coral which can destroy entire ecosystems.
Volunteers try to locate and extract such nets from the sea, but this doesn’t help to completely fix the problem. Right now there is a study going on where biodegradable nets are getting tested. These will work just well as the ones fishermen use but will be safer for the oceans if they get lost.
7. Denmark offers kayaking for free if you pick out floating trash from the water.
Copenhagen Harbor is the largest Danish seaport and one of the largest ports in the Baltic Sea region which means that this place suffers from pollution. Ships, workers, tourists and everyone else leaves a little piece of themselves there and oftentimes, some plastic.
The GreenKayaks are designed for those who want to spend their time having fun while benefiting the environment. A nice 2-person kayak and equipment are offered for free as long as you collect some litter while you ride!
8. Waste-free shopping and delivery
Shopping and ordering often results in us getting products wrapped and packed in a lot of plastic that might end up in our oceans. However, there’s a way to change that, and it soon might become the regular way of receiving goods in the mail.
LOOP Alliance came up with an interesting approach to this issue. They redesign packages for all the necessary products that we need and use metal for it. They deliver the things you need at home and after you used them, they’ll pick up the packaging. If you want to get this product again, they’ll just refill the bottle or container and bring it back to you.
9. Beeswax food wrap
When it comes to storing and packing food, plastic bags are our faithful helpers. Thankfully, nature and environmental enthusiasts are on guard and ready to suggest a better alternative. Beeswax paper for wrapping food is eco-friendly and just as good, if not better.
This product is made from cotton, beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil. Anything can be wrapped in it, like fruits and vegetables, and it can even be used to cover bowls and pans. Moreover, it’s washable and biodegradable.
10. Stop clogging the oceans with plastic via your washing machine.
Washing synthetic clothes means bringing plastic back into the ocean. Around 60% of the clothes that are produced are made of synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic. They contain tiny plastic, microfibres that get released when washed in hot water.
A big amount of this polluted water goes back into the ocean where fish and marine animals eventually eat it. Not only is this harmful to them, but it also enters our food chain and harms us in the end. The solution is rather easy: try to go for clothing made of natural materials or wash your synthetic ones at a lower temperature and in a shorter cycle.
Bonus: This is how cities could change by 2050 if we don’t do something about pollution right now.
What do you do to help the environment and reduce pollution? Do you try to recycle and reuse things? Let’s discuss this topic in the comment section!
Illustrated by Ekaterina Gapanovich for BrightSide.me