Plastic is bad news for Mother Earth. It can get overwhelming when you think of a solution. But not for these inventors, who recently discovered some promising plastic pollution solutions.
Fionn Ferreira – Removing Microplastic in water
Plastic has a new evil twin – microplastic. These invisible pieces of plastic leach into our oceans – into the bodies of marine animals. It’s in the air we breathe and the water we drink. Even plants infested by it are struggling to stand tall.*
Our oceans will have more plastics than fish by 2050 if we don’t change our ways. But how can we possibly remove microplastics from water bodies when we can’t even see them? Irish wunderkind Fionn Ferreira has found a way.
Fionn’s method could flush out more than 90% of the microplastics present in water. His invention won the Google Science Fair award this year. Here’s what he had to say.
“There is no doubt that the most effective way to reduce microplastic pollution in oceans is to use less plastics and ensure that plastics used can be recycled and separated to prevent them from entering our wastewater. But the reality is that more and more of the products we use contain plastics and potentially degrade into microplastics entering our wastewater. It is therefore essential that we find efficient and effective ways of extracting microplastics from wastewaters before they reach our watercourses and ultimately our oceans. Once plastics enter our oceans, they are practically impossible to extract. The results of this project show that this could be a viable method.” ~ from Fionn Ferreira’s Google Science Fair submission
Hoola One Team – Cleaning up Plastic on Beaches
Most of the ocean plastic washes onto beaches and coastlines. No wonder that 73% of all beach litter is plastic.
Governments spend millions each year to clean up tons of plastic around the world. It’s a massive effort involving thousands of volunteers who definitely need help. Enter the plastic vacuum cleaner which sucks out plastic from sand.
Kudos to the students of the University of Sherbrooke for coming up with this idea. They have now graduated and formed a social business to scale this idea. Learn more about the Hoola One project.
Sandra Pascoe Ortiz – making a plastic alternative from cactus
Each year, we add 300 million tons of plastic burden on our planet. Half of these are single-use plastics – used for seconds but hurting for years. So why make plastic altogether?
Scientists are now looking for ways to replace plastic with alternative eco-friendly materials. Like Mexican scientist Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, who created a plastic-like material from cactus! This material is biodegradable and dissolves in water.
“I believe that it is never too late to start changing things,” Ortiz says. “Every day there is a new opportunity to do things better, so if we each do what we have to do, there is another opportunity to reverse all the damage we have done to the planet.” ~ Sandra Pascoe Ortiz.
Sharon Barak – making plastic that isn’t plastic at all
Irish engineer Sharon Barak made a product that looks and feels like plastic, but is made from eco-friendly materials. Learn more about this plastic alternative.
“This really has the potential to solve the plastic pollution problem and make the world a better and cleaner place” ~ Sharon Barak.
Why do we need these plastic pollution solutions?*
🌱 Plastic hurts plants
Plastic pollutes our lands more than oceans. Microplastic seeping into the soil is detrimental to plant growth. Learn more here.
🐼 Plastic hurts wildlife
Unsuspecting animals ingest microplastics and nanoplastics. Thereby spreading into the entire food chain. See how plastic affects wildlife.
🙁 Plastic hurts us
You consume 39,000 – 52,000 pieces of microplastic per year. If you drink from plastic water bottles, it’s more than 74,000. Know more here.
Over to you
While the situation is grim, all’s not lost. Thanks to these plastic pollution solutions, humanity still has hope. Let’s do our bit by avoiding single-use plastics like straws.
Learn about the easy steps you could take to reduce plastic pollution, and plant a tree for free! Take the Plastic in the Ocean #ForestPlay quiz.