5 Amazing Products Made With Plastic Recycled From The Ocean

As divers, many of us have seen firsthand the devastation being wreaked upon the ocean by plastic pollution. Some of us will have dived on reefs entangled in discarded fishing gear, or seen plastic bottles and food wrappers littered along the high tide line at our nearest beach. According to a study by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen McArthur Foundation, the equivalent of one garbage truck of rubbish finds its way into our oceans every minute. If current trends continue, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.

The dangers inflicted on marine life by plastic pollution are manifold. Large items (ghost nets especially) cause entanglement, injury, and death; while degraded plastics release toxic chemicals that find their way into the food chain at the lowest level. So, what is the solution? In an ideal world, plastic production would cease and the human race would boycott plastic products entirely. However, this is an unrealistic dream. Plastic has become entrenched in our lifestyles – it’s in our clothing, our furniture, our packaging, our building materials and even in our hygiene products.

The next best option is to recycle the plastic that already exists in the world so that the production of new plastic products eventually becomes redundant. This is a lofty goal, but also one that the following companies are proving to be possible.

 

Adidas Parley Sneakers

 

 

In 2016, global sporting brand Adidas unveiled a limited edition sneaker made in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans. Parley for the Oceans is an initiative that organizes coastal clean-ups, removing plastic from beaches in the Maldives as well as floating ghost nets. This recycled plastic was used in the creation of the shoe, dubbed the Ultra Boost Uncaged Parley. 7,000 pairs were manufactured and quickly sold. In fact, sales were so successful that Adidas have now relaunched three of their most popular sneakers in the same environmentally friendly format – the Ultra Boost X Parley, the Ultra Boost Parley, and the original Ultra Boost Uncaged Parley.

The uppers of all three sneakers are made from 95% recycled plastic. Repurposed marine debris is also used in the production of the shoes’ laces, heel webbing, heel lining and sock liner covers – adding up to the equivalent of 11 plastic bottles per pair. The shoes are available in blue, or in a white designed to be “a wake-up call to the world about the coral bleaching crisis threatening the oceans”. Funds from the sales go to Parley for the Oceans’ AIR project, which is working on the research and development of new ways to up-cycle plastic as well as the invention of an alternative product to replace plastic in the clothing industry.

 

Bureo Skateboards

 

 

Start-up company Bureo was formed in 2013 with the goal of finding a solution to the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans. To do this, the company founded Net Positiva, a program that creates environmentally friendly disposal solutions for fishermen in Chile, so that they can discard their old fishing nets responsibly rather than abandoning them at sea. These nets are then collected and recycled to create durable decks for cruiser skateboards. Net Positiva encourages local fishermen to make use of their disposal units by providing financial support for participating communities.

Net Positiva collected and recycled 3,000 kilograms of fishing nets in the first six months of its existence. Today, that number has risen to around 80,000 kilograms. The brand sells two different types of skateboard – the Ahi Performance Cruiser and the Minnow Cruiser, both of which sport a sleek design and a distinctive fish-scale pattern on their black plastic decks. The Bureo website also sells skateboard decks and wheels separately, as well as a line of recycled plastic sunglasses and apparel made from 100% organic, sustainable cotton.

 

Bionic Yarn Clothing Materials

 

 

Co-founded by Tyson Toussant and Tim Coombs in 2009, Bionic Yarn is a material engineering company that uses recycled marine plastic to create a range of different textiles and polymers. There is an endless list of potential uses for these materials, ranging from boat covers to furniture – and in particular, high-end clothing. The process for creating weave-able yarn from recycled plastic is fascinating. First, the plastic is broken down into small pieces, before being shredded into individual fibers. These are then spun into a yarn and blended with fabrics like cotton, wool, or cashmere.

Soon after its inception, music mogul Pharrell Williams joined the company as its creative director, and since then Bionic Yarn has been supplying its revolutionary threads to major clothing companies including Timberland, O’Neill and The Gap. In 2016, Bionic Yarn collaborated with G-Star RAW to create the RAW for the Oceans clothing line – the world’s first denim collection made from recycled plastic. In early 2017, H&M launched its new Conscious Exclusive Collection, featuring a blush-colored ball gown made from Bionic Yarn threads as its centerpiece.

 

Net-Works Carpets

 

 

In 2012, carpet tile designer and manufacturer Interface joined forces with the Zoological Society of London to source a recyclable material that would benefit the environment and local communities. Together, they founded Net-Works, an organization that has helped coastal communities in the Philippines and Cameroon to make a living out of collecting discarded fishing nets. The communities sell the nets to a global supply chain, which in turn recycles them into a yarn used by Interface to manufacture carpet tile.

Net-Works operates through a series of community banks, which organize the beach clean-ups, broker the sale of the nets to the supply chain and help people to save money. The banks also provide loans to those that need them and fund local conservation projects in a way that involves the community at a grassroots level. In addition, fishermen can sell their old nets directly to the banks, preventing them from ending up in the ocean in the first place. Since 2012, Net-Works has collected 142 metric tons of plastic waste, and given 1,500 families access to finance.

 

Washed Ashore Artwork

 

 

Founded by artist and educator Angela Haseltine Pozzi in 2010, Washed Ashore is an Oregon-based organization that uses marine debris to create gigantic sea life sculptures. The main purpose of these sculptures is to raise awareness of plastic pollution and to encourage discussion about ways in which to minimise our plastic waste in the future. The sculptures (including turtles, great white sharks, and colorful reef fish) have been exhibited at zoos and aquariums all over the United States, including Georgia Aquarium and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The plastic used to make the sculptures (of which there are more than 60) is collected during volunteer clean-ups, then washed and sorted into different shapes and colors. Since 2010, more than 10,000 volunteers have worked together to collect 38,000 pounds of marine debris. When the sculptures go on exhibition, they are accompanied by staff and volunteers who increase their impact by giving conservation-related talks and workshops.

 

 

New study shows air pollution may be causing kidney disease in the US

Add kidney disease to the list of health problems associated with air pollution.

A team of scientists from Washington University in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System found an association between tiny particulate matter and kidney disease in two different data sets.

The scientists compared Veteran Affairs data on kidney disease with data on air pollution from two separate sets: satellite data from NASA and information from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Their study consistently found that risk of kidney disease rose along with air pollution levels across the continental United States.

As might be expected, many of the areas of the U.S. at greatest risk tend to be more heavily populated. The part of the country with the lowest risk overall is a section that runs roughly from Montana through West Texas. There are pockets of lower-risk areas in other places, but much of California and the Eastern half of the United States are more vulnerable.

The scientists published their results in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

It is important to note that this only found an association with air pollution — the study did not conclusively determine pollution to be the cause of kidney disease.

But the fact that the study found the association in both the EPA data set and the NASA data set is compelling, said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, a senior author on the study and an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University, in a statement.

“The beauty of using both EPA and NASA data is that the agencies used two distinct techniques for collecting data, yet the results were similar,” he said. “This constellation of findings suggests that chronic exposure to air pollution is a significant risk factor for the development and progression of kidney disease.”

The study focused on a type of pollution called PM 2.5, which is particulate matter up to 2.5 microns in size. This particular form of pollution can come from myriad sources, including vehicle emissions, fossil fuel power plants, wildfires or even campfires.

Scientists say the particles can enter the bloodstream once they are breathed into the lungs.

Air pollution has been linked to health problems as varied as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and weight gain. The study’s authors say that one of those conditions could be responsible for kidney damage, rather than the pollution itself.

They also noted that the population they studied was mostly older white male military veterans, so the results might not apply to other populations. The scientists tried to account for confounding factors, but there could still be additional variables, such as diet or genetics, or even other environmental factors such as exposure to heavy metals.

But the data show a clear association.

“In our analyses, the risk of chronic kidney disease and its progression was most pronounced at the highest levels of fine particulate matter concentration,” Al-Aly said in the release. “This suggests further study is needed for a broader assessment of the global burden of kidney disease attributable to air pollution.”

Air quality has improved in the United States in recent decades, but Al-Aly pointed out that there is no safe level of exposure to PM 2.5; even low levels can increase risk.

Other parts of the world have serious problems with hazes of pollution. China has even had to essentially shut down entire cities for days at a time. Just breathing Beijing’s air might be as bad as smoking 40 cigarettes a day.

Air pollution takes a toll on solar energy

Air pollution is a drag for renewable energy. Dust and other sky-darkening air pollutants slash solar energy production by 17 to 25 percent across parts of India, China and the Arabian Peninsula, a new study estimates.

The haze can block sunlight from reaching solar panels. And if the particles land on a panel’s flat surface, they cut down on the area exposed to the sun. Dust can come from natural sources, but the other pollutants have human-made origins, including cars, factories and coal-fired power plants.

Scientists collected and analyzed dust and pollution particles from solar panels in India, then extrapolated to quantify the impact on solar energy output in all three locations. China, which generates more solar energy than any other country, is losing up to 11 gigawatts of power capacity due to air pollution, the researchers report in the Aug. 8 Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

That’s a loss of about $10 billion per year in U.S. energy costs, says study coauthor Mike Bergin of Duke University. Regular cleaning of solar panels can help. Cleaning the air, however, is harder.

Chile’s Atacama desert: World’s driest place in bloom after surprise rain

After intense and unexpected rain fell in the north of Chile, parts of the usually arid Atacama desert have turned into a carpet of flowers.
The “desierto florido” (flowering desert) phenomenon usually occurs every five to seven years when rains cause buried seeds to germinate and flower.
But this bloom comes just two years after a a particularly colourful flowering in 2015.
More than 200 species of plant have been found to grow in the area.
The spectacle draws visitors and botanists from Chile and further afield.
Tourism officials said they hoped more flowers would bloom in the coming weeks as different species germinate at different times.