Young woman invents ingenious bioplastic made from fish scales and red algae

According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, if current trends in single-use plastic continue, "there could be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the ocean by 2050." Having spent countless family vacations at the beach since she was a child, product design student Lucy Hughes, now 24, was distraught by the amount of single-use plastic she saw littering the shore and water. So she invented a bioplastic made from fish scales and skin collected at a fish processing plant. The scales and skin are bound together with red algae. For her product, called MarinaTex, Hughes just won a James Dyson Award recognizing ingenious design. From Smithsonian:

The resulting product is strong, flexible and translucent, with a feel similar to plastic sheeting. It biodegrades on its own in four to six weeks, which gives it a major sustainability advantage over traditional bioplastics, most of which require industrial composters to break down. In addition to utilizing materials that would otherwise be thrown away, the production process itself uses little energy, since it doesn’t require hot temperatures. One single Atlantic cod fish produces enough waste for 1,400 MarinaTex bags.

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Lego's new green-minded effort to collect and redistribute old bricks

Today, Lego announced Replay, an initiative to collect, clean, and redistribute old bricks through organizations like Teach For America and the Boys and Girls Club of Boston. Basically, you toss your old Legos in a box and ship them off with a prepaid label provided by logistics company Give Back Box. From Wired:

The biggest challenge in the process, says Give Back Box founder Monika Wiela, will be sorting and cleaning all the pieces. Her company will collect the bricks at its facility in Alabama, where workers will then separate out the broken bricks and machine wash the rest. The goal is to make the donated toys seem like new, as opposed to grimy hand-me-downs.

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Watch Lego minifigures being born

This is the machine ballet of Lego minifigures getting made at a factory in Kladno, Czech Republic. Below, the molds behind a minifig.

(New Elementary) Read the rest

Incredible art from plastic trash

Tom Deininger, previously seen on Boing Boing, is a Boston-based assemblage artist who creates incredible sculptures and 3D "paintings" from plastic garbage.

Deininger created the self-portrait below from "studio trash kept for two months. The size of the self portrait was determined by the trash."

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Nepal is banning single-use plastic on and around Mt. Everest

Nepal is banning disposable plastic soda bottles and other single-use plastic items in Khumbu, the region where Mount Everest is located. In May, volunteers collected more than six thousand pounds of trash from the mountain. This new ban is meant to reduce the amount of garbage left by tourists and climbers on Everest and in the villages surrounding it. From CNN:

Nepalese authorities said they will ban plastic soft drink bottles and single-use plastics under 30 microns thick (0.0012 inches, or 0.03 millimeter) in the Khumbu region... The ban will prevent hikers from bringing the plastic goods in -- and stop shops from selling them.

The rules won't come into effect until January next year, and won't apply to plastic water bottles, said Ganesh Ghimire, the chief administrative officer of Khumbu Pasang Lhamu rural municipality.

"We are consulting with all sides about what can be done about plastic water bottles," he told CNN Thursday. "We will soon find a solution for that."

image: "The sun rising on Everest in 2011" by Sebastian Werner (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

LEGO to launch botanical set made of sugarcane-based plastic

As part of its efforts to source its materials more responsibly, LEGO is launching a line of plant forms made from sustainable sugarcane plastics instead of petroleum-based plastic. Read the rest

Look closely: These Hawaiian shirts depict our plastic-polluted oceans

A staggering eight million tons of plastic trash is dumped in our oceans each year, according to a 2015 Science report.

As a way of putting a spotlight on the issue, Spanish designer Adolfo Correa created the art for The Paradise? Shirt, a Hawaiian-style shirt that, at first glance, looks standard-issue. Look closer and you'll see he's put plastic waste -- like toothbrushes and six-pack rings -- into the design.

The shirt was a collaboration between Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, Corona and Parley for the Oceans, created for World Oceans Day (June 8). The limited-edition shirts were being sold at the World Surf League Store for $69/each but have already sold out.

images via Adolfo Correa

(Dezeen) Read the rest

UK's indie music fests vow to end plastic bottles and straws at events

The Association of Independent Festivals plans to take a step in the right direction on single-use plastic items with their Drastic on Plastic initiative. Read the rest

Who makes the clips that keep bread bags closed?

How many plastic bread bag clips does Yakima, Washington's Kwik Lok sell annually? "It’s in the billions," says the company's sales coordinator Leigh Anne Whathen. According to Kwik Lok, company founder Floyd Paxton dreamt up the idea in 1954. I wonder if he imagined their other popular use as a makeshift guitar pick. From Atlas Obscura:

As the story goes, while he was on the plane, Paxton was eating a package of complimentary nuts, and he realized he didn’t have a way to close them if he wanted to save some for later. As a solution, he took out a pen knife and hand-carved the first bread clip out of a credit card (in some tellings, it was an expired credit card)...

According to Whathen, Kwik Lok secured a patent on their little innovation in the early days of the company, and to this day, Kwik Lok remains one of the only manufacturers of bread clips in the world. Whathen says that the only other firm she’s aware of is a European competitor called Schutte. Kwik Lok also has the distinction of still being owned by Paxton’s descendants. Floyd’s son, Jerre, ran the company until his death in 2015, and today it is owned by two of Jerre’s daughters. “We’re still going strong,” says Whathen.

"Most of the World’s Bread Clips Are Made by a Single Company" (Atlas Obscura)

(image: DANIELGAMAGE/CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Little green army men in yoga poses

Yoga Joes are a clever series of little green plastic army men in rather impressive yoga poses. Namaste, sergeant. Advanced Yoga Joes are available for pre-order in the following poses:

• Firefly • Advanced Side Plank

• Scorpion

• Peacock

• King Pigeon - Mermaid Arm Variation

• Lotus Headstand - Spherical Helmet Variation (Yes he really balances.)

(via Laughing Squid)

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Scientists discover bacteria that eats waste plastic

Japanese researchers discovered a bacterium that eats polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the stuff used to make plenty of single-use plastic products that sit in landfills. The bacterium, named Ideonella sakaiensis, uses enzymes to break down the plastic into carbon and energy sources for the microbe. From Chemical & Engineering News:

To find microbes that could pull PET apart, a team led by Kohei Oda of Kyoto Institute of Technology and Kenji Miyamoto of Keio University screened 250 sediment, soil, wastewater, and activated sludge samples from a PET bottle recycling facility in Sakai, Japan....

The study’s first author, Shosuke Yoshida of Keio University, says that a PET pretreatment that would enlarge the polymer’s amorphous areas would make waste more appetizing for the bacterium. Also, he notes, it might be possible to engineer the enzymes to make them faster and more practical.

Bacteria Devour Polluting Plastic in Landfills (via SciAm)

A bacterium that degrades and assimilates poly(ethylene terephthalate) (Science) Read the rest

303 Aerospace Protectant really preserves plastic and vinyl

I like classic motorcycles and cars. I live by the sea. 303 Aerospace Protectant keeps plastic and rubbery bits looking fresh and new.

I don't know what the hell is in this stuff. I don't know why it is different than Armor-All, but the results are unmistakeable. 303 Aerospace really works.

I spray a rag and apply the milky looking liquid to the surface that needs it. It seems adding a little sea air and some sun to the rubber grommets, caps and fastener covers on my old BMW airhead will cause things to disintegrate before my eyes. A light coating of 303 Aerospace every few months has stopped that completely.

I've seen old vinyl seats come back to life. 303 amazingly even restores some of the lost flexibility in that old Corinthian leather, cracking and peeling significantly slowed to stopped. I've used 303 to keep my plastic kayaks looking new for years, and the fiberglass top on my Volkswagen Westfalia camper. Most amazingly, 303 really does a wonderful job on the horrible plastic covered cardboard dash in that same VW. The bus doesn't look new, but the dash does.

I'd read a lot of complaints from people about Armor-All over hydrating surfaces and cracking them worse. I suspect that might be due to over application, but I find 303 gives me a better, longer lasting finish anyways.

303 (30313-CSR) Aerospace Protectant Trigger Sprayer, 32 Fl. oz. Read the rest

Up to 90 percent of seabirds have plastic in their guts

Researchers calculate that as many as 9 out of 10 seabirds have plastic garbage in their intestines. So sad. Read the rest

Video: turning plastic bottles into string

Demonstration of a DIY device to turn plastic bottles into plastic string/ribbon. (Thanks, Rick "Under The Weather" Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Ford/Heinz making tomato plastic

Ford and Heinz are teaming up to turn leftover tomato bits into a plant-based plastic for auto parts. (UPI) Read the rest

Why we can't just filter the plastic out of the ocean

One does not simply sail into the Pacific Garbage Patch and clean it up like convicts on the interstate. For one thing, those pieces of plastic are much smaller than you're imagining. For another, when the plastic is that small, any attempt at filtering inevitably sucks up tiny sea life, as well. Read the rest

Cool, interactive site shows you how ocean currents carry flotsam around the globe

Drop a message-in-a-bottle into the Gulf of Mexico, somewhere near New Orleans, and, 10 years later, your missive has a high likelihood of ending up near Cuba — or northern France. The website Adrift uses data from a global system of floating buoys to show you how ocean currents carry things like plastic debris around the planet. Read the rest

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