Empowering Discussions

A Love Hate Relationship That Won’t End Easily, Plastic Has a New Enemy

Plastic has been an important part of progress and is very convenient for our modern lifestyle, but it’s also a form of pollution that has sickened people and destroyed environments.  Even though when shopping I refuse to buy most products that are in plastic packaging and think twice before buying something made of plastic, like you I am a contributor to the plastic problem. Even if we stopped manufacturing plastic it would still be around sitting in landfills and in our homes, but there is good news.

Even though some plastics may never degrade or will take thousands of years, science is giving us a chance to stop the monster we created by creating biodegradable plastics and finding ways to destroy plastic that won’t go away on its own. The tricky part is figuring out how to rid our ecosystems from plastic without causing more pollution. Recycling isn’t perfect, plastic trash breaks down without fully degrading thus making it hard to collect,  and  burning plastic is definitely a bad idea.

Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao are two women in Canada who found a bacteria in their local river soil that eats the phthalates in plastic.  Phthalates are an extremely toxic piece of the recipe for most plastics that is derived from fossil fuel, and is easily absorbed into our skin and food.  While the knowledge that bacteria in soil can breakdown waste isn’t new, what’s surprising is they discovered this while still in High School.

Watch Miranda and Jeannys TED talk at: ted.com/talks/two_young_scientists_break_down_plastics_with_bacteria.html

Read about their project at sanofibiogeneiuschallenge.ca/2012/04/25/british-columbia-plastic-pollution-eating-bacteria

This doesn’t mean we can continue to produce toxic plastic, because we don’t know exactly what happens to the bacteria after it’s ingested plastic. Does it pass a less toxic, but still dangerous waste into the environment That’s the question asked in the thedailyactivist.com/environment-plastic-eating-bacteria.

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