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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

An Innovative Way To Save Marine Life and Reduce Plastic Waste


Out of the 200 billion pounds of plastic consumed yearly by humans, 10% of it ends up in the ocean. 90% of garbage in the ocean is plastic. This garbage circulates and accumulates in our ocean's gyres creating garbage patches the size of small counties. This causes many ecological disturbances, including the most obvious one being a danger to marine life.

Entangled seal by derelict net, Hawaii. Photo Source: NOAA
An estimated 1 million sea birds, and 100 thousand sea mammals and turtles become entrapped or ingest plastic mistaken as food and die. It is pretty awful way to die on this planet. Just a quick internet search of "seals stuck in trash" will break your heart when you see their little suffering faces. I don't know about you, but bringing sickness, suffering or death to any creature that relies on humans to keep their backyard clean is pretty shitty.


In addition, plastics in the water absorb floating chemicals, which are attracted to the plastics' oil base. These chemicals are widely known as persistent organic pollutants which never break down into the environment. These include insecticides, fungicides, pesticides, industrial waste toxins, PCBs, coolant, lubricants and more. Aside from slowly poisoning the water of the oceans that we need for life to thrive on this planet, we also ingest the poisons that were consumed and absorbed in our seafood when it is eaten.


IStock - Trash Floating in the Ocean
Naturally, reducing our plastic consumption and finding new, innovative materials to make many pre-existing items out of would help tremendously. One thing that doesn't need to exist, and definitely doesn't need to be made out of plastic is canned six pack rings.

While it doesn't stop it from being eaten, as a kid I was always told to cut the rings with a scissor to prevent animals from getting stuck. I can honestly say, that I am the only one I know who does that. Since people aren't in the habit of cutting them or disposing of them properly, redesigning them or getting rid of them altogether seems like a plan.

The best design I could come up with to reinvent it was a sturdy cardboard, but I didn't like the idea of using paper because it encourages the cutting down of trees. The Saltwater Brewery, on the other hand, found a way to use brewery waste to make edible, biodegradable and compostable six pack rings. The sturdy beverage holders are made from the leftover barely and wheat remnants from the brewing process.


Clever design will save the world. What other every day, one use items could use a redesign?


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