The grapefruit-sized, approximately 18-year-old eastern box turtle was found by a zoo employee at Druid Hill Park in July. The reptile had multiple fractures on the bottom part of his shell and was taken to the zoo's hospital for treatment.
Veterinarians performed surgery on the turtle and used metal bone plates, sewing clasps and surgical wire to hold the shell fragments together.
The vets then came up with a clever idea to keep the bottom of the shell elevated off the ground so it could properly heal.
"They don't make turtle-sized wheelchairs," veterinary extern Garrett Fraess explained in a press release received by EcoWatch. "So, we drew some sketches of a customized wheelchair and I sent them to a friend who is a LEGO enthusiast."
A few weeks after surgery, the turtle received his very own multi-colored wheelchair, featuring a frame and wheels made with LEGO bricks. The device was attached to the turtle's upper shell with plumbers putty.
"He took off and has been doing great," Fraess said. "Turtles are really good at healing as long as the shell remains stable."
Ellen Bronson, senior director of animal health, conservation and research at the zoo, said that the turtle will likely use his LEGO wheelchair through the winter and into the spring until all of the fragments have fused together and the shell has completely healed.
"We are very happy that he is recovering well from his injuries and we plan to return him to the wild once he is fully healed," she added.
The turtle's plastron (the bottom part of his shell) is healing.The Maryland Zoo
- LEGO Smashes 100% Renewable Energy Goal ›
- LEGO Tests Bricks Made From Wheat in Effort to Ditch Plastic ›
Fresh after meeting its 100 percent renewable energy milestone, LEGO is making progress towards its 2030 goal of replacing 20 types of its traditional, petroleum-based bricks with sustainable alternatives.
Quartz reports that the 84-year-old Danish toymaker is experimenting with bioplastics, which is made from plants or other biodegradable materials.
The biggest challenge is finding a substitute material with the same durability, functionality and look of the brand's iconic, interlocking plastic bricks.
"I'm about to pass on the LEGO bricks I played with as a child and the bricks my dad passed down to me to my son," Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility for the LEGO Group, told the publication. "We know LEGO bricks are often passed down through generations—making it so important that the sustainable materials chosen for our products be extremely durable."
One option is a brick made of wheat sugar, but testers considered it "dull and flat" compared to LEGO's conventional, shiny blocks, according to Quartz.
In 2015, LEGO announced its investment of DKK 1 billion ($155 million) to establish a Sustainable Materials Center to find and implement sustainable alternatives to current materials in order to reduce its environmental footprint.
Brooks, who oversees the center, relayed his confidence that LEGO will one day find the ideal, bio-based materials.
"We know that making bricks has an impact on the planet, and we want it to be a positive one," he said.
LEGO's reported criteria for replacement plastics are: no undesirable chemicals; sustainably sourced and manufactured feedstock (aka, the raw materials); and minimum waste.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
The LEGO group announced it reached its goal of balancing 100 percent of its energy use with renewable sources.
The beloved toymaker's ambitious feat was achieved three years early thanks to its 25 percent stake in the massive, 258-megawatt Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm that just opened Wednesday in the UK's Liverpool Bay.
"We work to leave a positive impact on the planet and I am truly excited about the inauguration of the Burbo Bank Extension wind farm," said Bali Padda, CEO of the LEGO Group.
"This development means we have now reached the 100 percent renewable energy milestone three years ahead of target. Together with our partners, we intend to continue investing in renewable energy to help create a better future for the builders of tomorrow."
It's official: @LEGO_Group have broken the world record for the World's Largest LEGO Brick Wind Turbine! #woohoo https://t.co/SXItMNyuJf— Liverpool ONE (@Liverpool ONE)1495020012.0
As CleanTechnica reported, the wind farm is a joint venture between DONG Energy, PKA and KIRKBI A/S—the parent company of the LEGO Group. Because of that, LEGO was able to reach its 100 percent renewable energy goal after only four years and DKK 6 billion worth of investment into two offshore wind farms.
According to an announcement, the LEGO Group has supported the development of more than 160 megawatts of renewable energy since 2012. Total output from its investments in renewables now exceeds the energy consumed at all LEGO factories, stores and offices globally, it said.
To celebrate the milestone, the Danish company set a Guinness World Record by building the largest ever LEGO brick wind turbine—a seven and a half meter tall structure made from 146,000 bricks. LEGO even enlisted its mascot, Batman, to receive the recognition at a ceremony in Liverpool.
"We see children as our role models and as we take action in reducing our environmental impact as a company, we will also continue to work to inspire children around the world by engaging them in environmental and social issues," Padda said.