Styrofoam Eating Larvae…

The Darkling Beetle, which is in the form of a 2-inch worm, is capable of eating and digesting Styrofoam. Although their diet mainly consists of wheat bran, they have managed to gain weight and not expire after the consumption of this inorganic substance. If scientists can understand what is behind this ability, it could aid in solving the problem of what to do with the excess Styrofoam being produced. When given antibiotics the larvae were unable to consume more of the substance. This led scientists to believe that the antibiotics were destroying a particular microbe in their digestive system that was responsible for digesting Styrofoam. Studies in Australia with the mealworm found similar results. These worms were able to consume the Styrofoam packing peanuts without it doing any harm to their system.

https://www.intelligentliving.co/styrofoam-eating-mealworms-absorb-toxic-additive/https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/beetle-larvae-can-survive-on-polystyrene-alone-67251

175 Nations make a Treaty Plan…

This past month, 175 nations agreed to come up with a global treaty to deal with plastic pollution. The aim of the treaty is to improve recycling, curb plastic production and eliminate single use plastic products. Hopefully the details of the treaty will be finished by 2024. Only 9% of plastic is now recycled with the bulk going to landfills. At present plastics are manufactured from fossil fuels which is responsible for the release of about 4.5% of green house gases. The proposal was put together through the efforts of Peru and Rwanda. Rwanda has led the way with strict laws banning import, production, and use of plastic bags and packaging. The countries involved are looking to the Paris Accord to establish a time frame in which all countries must comply. This would be a major step in addressing microplastics, the breakdown of plastic, which is now filling our oceans.

The Trusty Banana…

The average American consumes about 27lbs. of bananas a year. What happens to all that waste? Since the 13th century Japan has made use of the silky fibers of the unfurled leaves to make fabric. A banana plant will produce fruit only once in its lifetime which leaves the rest of the plant available to make yarn. It is referred to as Musa fabric and has a texture as soft as cotton and as silky as silk. Yet it is both water and tear resistant. More recently it is now being used to make sneakers and light summer dresses. Clothing from this fabric has been used by H&M. The world of fabrics made from food waste is expanding rapidly. You can now find items such as eye glass frames made from spud waste, silk lace from orange rinds, sneakers made from apple core waste and a leather substitute constructed from mushrooms.

Looking to Mushrooms for Sustainable Fabric…

The process of manufacturing and disposing of used clothing has become a major contributor to landfills and pollution. There is a movement in the fashion industry to develop alternatives as well as biofibers and environmentally friendly fasteners. In the last 15 years, the amount of clothing being purchased increased by 60% and at the same time the amount of time a garment was worn decreased by half. This amounts to one garbage truck being dumped or burned every second. “H & M” has started a buy back program for unwanted clothing in which old clothing is broken down and reassembled as new garments. “Thousand Fell” is a company that has started a buy-back program for old sneakers in which they are broken down and remade into new footwear. One new area of interest is to rely on nature as opposed to animals for leather goods. Animal hides are both troublesome and toxic in the way they are produced. Mycelium, mushroom roots, has been used for centuries to dress wounds but now it has been taken to another level. “MycoWorks’s” is one such company that is exploring how to make use of mushroom roots for both clothing and automobile interiors to replace leather. A prototype of a sneaker produced in this manner began to disintegrate after 7 days of being buried in the soil. At the State University of New York biodegradable thread from algae is in the works. The final decision has to be made by the consumer. Will they support a substitute for leather and wear a product that has been made from recycled material?

 

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