Beyond the super worm: a simple step you can take to stop plastic pollution
Plastic is a revolutionary material. Depending on its type, it has a service life of 100-500 years. However, when we used this material to make things like plastic bags with an average lifespan of 25 minutes, we ran into a problem. Our oceans are heavily polluted, and 80% of marine debris is plastic. When the scale of our plastic pollution continues to expand, we like to wait for an amazing solution to make it disappear. This time, it seems that worms are coming to save us.
If you haven't heard of it, a Stanford University study found that wax worms eat plastic. The researchers said that during this process, the microbes in their gut would biodegrade plastic. Those wax worms usually feed on the wax in the honeycomb. Digesting beeswax involves breaking down similar types of chemical bonds as in polyethylene (a plastic). Although there are still many unknowns, this research is hailed as a unique solution to plastic pollution.
This is not the first time such a miraculous solution has been proposed. Although it is an interesting study, how will we use this information when it comes to industry and consumer behavior? At the rate of 1 million plastic bags used every minute worldwide, solutions such as feeding plastic to waxworms are not only costly and impractical to implement, but also a bad excuse. Worms will not save us from a wasteful lifestyle, only we can do it.
The huge plastic pollution problem actually has a simple and direct solution: to reduce plastic waste, we should use less plastic. This involves producing, consuming and discarding fewer plastic items, especially single-use plastic items.
And this change is much easier than people think. Refuse to use plastic bags and make sure you have a reusable bag when you go to the grocery store. This is the first step in reducing plastic waste. You can also use reusable bags for fruits and vegetables!
Every July 3rd, dozens of organizations and citizens around the world will celebrate the International Day without Plastic Bags to raise awareness of the issue of using disposable plastic bags. Carrying a reusable bag to the store is a simple and concrete first step towards a world without plastic pollution. Let us stop waiting for some worms to save us and make every day a day without plastic bags.
Learn more about the incredible actions taken around the world at the 2017 International Day without Plastic Bags!
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9 reasons why we better get rid of waste-to-energy and switch to zero waste-27/02/2018 "deliver or pay", or how waste incineration can slow down recycling-31/10/2017 Beyond the super worm: what you can do A simple step to stop plastic pollution-10/08/2017