Options Memo

Katy Rivera

Tackling the plastic problem: A review on perceptions, behaviors, and  interventions - ScienceDirect

There are several solutions that we can approach to diminish plastic waste and reduce the severe effects it has on the environment. One suggestion is to start by us (humans) changing our practices/habits. Sloactive suggest we start reducing our use of plastics in general. “Avoid purchasing items wrapped in plastic, and using reusable produce bags, is a quick win to change what you buy in your grocery shop” (Sloactive, n.d).  By doing so, we are using less plastic which then leads to a decrease in the production of the material. Instead of purchasing plastic bottles of water, individuals should purchase a reusable bottle. Also, reusable shopping bags would help combat much of the waste predicted to contribute to the already tons of waste. One kind of plastic that many corporations have been trying to get rid of by suggesting other alternatives are, straws. Sloative indicates that just Americans use 500 million straw a DAY. For the straw lovers, silicon or stainless-steel straws are available. Cleanup efforts are a solution we can all take part in and slowly help our environments and the ecosystems being severely affected. Cleanups can take place at beaches, lakes or rivers. Communities and organizations can also get others to actively participate in their efforts.

Another way to actively reduce pollution is by getting politically active. Laws and movements are created to effectively make changes and enforce those laws. Some countries are taking initiative and passing laws to protect the environment and anything that affects it. Gambia, Tanzania, sri lanka and many more have banned thin plastic bags and some of those countries have even started to place a fee for those who do want bags. Many are discouraged when paying a fee therefore, the majority of people will opt for a reusable bag. “in San Jose, the hybrid ban model with a 10-cent charge for paper bags led to an increase in reusable bag use from 4 percent to 62 percent” Other bans would include bottles and straws. (Renee Cho, 2018) The last solution is to use technology to create other alternatives or combat the issue.  

As we know, the majority of plastic comes from oil. Japanese inventor Akinori Ito has developed new technology that will convert the plastic bags back into oil. This would become as an alternative to fuel and be cost effective. Next, we have water bottles made from algae. This would minimize the need for plastic bottles and have minimal effects on wildlife. The bottles would have a short duration from when delivered to consumers. This would give consumers enough time to drink the water before it starts degrading.  Scientists have also discovered a fungus that feasts on plastic which could make our job easier. “The fungus, called Aspergillus Tubingensis, secretes enzymes onto the surface of plastics which helps breaks down the long polymer chains so notorious for holding plastic together” (Maverick Baker, 2018). This fungus breaks down plastic by the molecules and then destroy the polymer chains. Lastly, plastic eating enzymes. The enzyme was accidentally improved, and its ability then became to consume plastic. “Team is now investigating whether the enzyme can be improved further to engineer a new catalyst which could be used to break down plastic on an industrial scale” (Maverick Baker, 2018). This enzyme could also break the polymer chains of the plastic and then fight against what holds it together. 

References

How to Eliminate Plastic Waste and Plastic Pollution with Science and Engineering. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2020, from https://interestingengineering.com/how-to-eliminate-plastic-waste-and-plastic-pollution-with-science-and-engineering

Plastic Pollution Guide—Ocean Pollution Facts & Figures. (2018, January 10). SLO Active. https://sloactive.com/plastic-pollution/

What You Can Do to Fight Plastic Pollution. (2018, May 11). State of the Planet. https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2018/05/11/can-fight-plastic-pollution/

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