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The Danish building block toy LEGO has sprouted an empire of amusement park like stores, movies, and reality TV competitions premised on building complicated characters, vehicles and settings from inter-locking pieces of plastic. Unfortunately, all that plastic will be with us for a long, long time, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Pollution.
By Robin Pomeroy
For the great explorers of the 19th and 20th centuries, the prime motivation was getting to places no one had been before: "Because it's there," is what British mountaineer George Mallory famously replied when asked why he wanted to climb Everest.
But no longer. With all the biggest peaks climbed, poles reached and jungles explored, modern-day Mallories are seeking to solve even bigger challenges.
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All those phones, computers and tablets we rely on are dependent on mined resources. Extracting and processing those resources accounts for nearly half of our greenhouse gas emissions, which is why the European Commission's Circular Economy Action Plan calls for "initiatives for the entire life cycle of products, from design and manufacturing to consumption, repair, reuse, recycling, and bringing resources back into the economy."
Thailand rang in 2020 with an effort to tackle the plastic crisis filling the country's waste sites and choking its waterways. The country's ban on plastic bags at major retailers began as soon as the clock struck midnight in Bangkok. A complete ban of bags that includes smaller shops will go into effect in 2021, as Reuters reported.
Microplastics have been found everywhere in the world, from the depths of the ocean to the pristine mountaintops of the Pyrenees mountains to Arctic snow. Now a team of researchers in the United Kingdom is testing the concentrations of microplastics in cities. Sure enough, the tiny plastic particles are raining down on urban populations, as The Guardian reported.
The delicate wash cycle uses much more water than other settings, which triggers the release of hundreds of thousands of plastic microfibers, which travel down the drain and potentially into marine waterways, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
McGill University chemical engineering professor Nathalie Tufenkji decided to test tea bags after she was given one in a Montreal cafe that looked like it was made from plastic.