Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Plastic that really does degrade!

I’ve just been reading about a plastic bag that is supposed to be completely biodegradable! Unlike other marketed degradable plastics such those made from a corn based, which will only degrade under extreme temperatures, this one seems to really do the job, (fingers and toes crossed here). But some people have commented that this bag won’t break down in compost heap, as they don't reach sufficient temperatures (I know mine doesn’t). Has anyone used it?

If this is all it’s cracked up to e, it will be truly revolutionary, it that simply dissolves in hot water. No waste. No landfill.

Once you’ve finished with the bag, Place it in a receptacle filled with water, the plastic dissolves into the water almost immediately.

Cyberpac, its creators, claim that you don't need to boil it, just chuck it on the compost heap!

"Harmless-Dissolve is made from a hydro-degradable substrate which is 5 times stronger than normal polythene. It is a readily biodegradable, water-soluble polymer which completely biodegrades in a composting environment, in a dishwasher or in a washing machine. It has no harmful residues and will biodegrade into naturally occuring substances - the bugs love it.

"It's non-toxic and is degraded by micro-organisms, moulds and yeasts. These organisms can occur in both artificial environments, such as anaerobic digesters, activated sewage sludge and composts and natural environments such as aquatic systems and soil. The micro-organisms use Harmless-Dissolve as a food source by producing a variety of enzymes that are capable of reacting with it. In the end the bag becomes carbon dioxide, water and biomass.

“Harmless-Dissolve is incredibly versatile and flexible. It can be produced in many colours and formats:

”For envelopes, Harmless-Dissolve can be made in any size, printed full colour process using biodegradable inks and finished with a biodegradable peel and seal lip.”

They also produce a wide range of other environmentally friendly products


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Plastic Planet: Life in the plastic age

This is a review of a new documentary Plastic Planet, by Jonathan Kim of The Huffington Post. The film   deals with the problems of the mounting piles of plastic that are everywhere in the natural envoronment. Director Werner Boote proclaims that just as the world experienced the Ice Age, the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, mankind is currently living in what could only be called the Plastic Age. First created in 1855 by Alexander Parkes, plastic is involved in every facet of modern existence to the point that life without it is unimaginable. Don't believe me? If you do a quick check, I'm willing to bet that you are currently touching at least three pieces of plastic right now. Looking around me, I could reach out and touch at least 50 plastic items (pens, tape dispenser, phone, printer, blank DVDs, etc.) and probably a lot more.

But plastic is not as benign as it appears. Plastic Planet attempts to tell the full story of plastic -- how it's made, where it goes, and how dangerous chemicals found in plastics make their way into the environment, the food chain, and eventually into the human body. Watch my ReThink Review of Plastic Planet and my discussion with Ana Kasparian of the Young Turks about how plastic chemicals enter your body, the effects they can have on the endocrine system, and some ways to keep plastic out of you.

In this video, I have one statistic wrong -- it turns out that it's 92.6 percent of Americans (not all humans) who have detectable amounts of plastic chemicals in their blood and urine, though BPA has been found in the air around the world. Unfortunately, that chemical is bisphenol A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor that can mimic human hormones and has been linked to cancer, obesity, early puberty, diabetes and heart disease. You may remember a few years back when Nalgene was criticized for using BPA in their hard plastic water bottles favored by outdoorsy types (they've since stopped using it). The US and state governments have been restricting the use of BPA in products designed for babies and very young children, but BPA is still widely used in food packaging, including the linings of cans. To find out more about how countries are restricting BPA, go here.

Of course, the best way to keep plastic out of your body and the environment is to use less of it, especially when it comes to food. I recycled some old plastic containers and bought glass replacements for the two plastic items I use the most -- my juice pitcher and a large measuring cup I use to blend my smoothies. I already don't drink bottled water (nor should you for many reasons), and most of the food I buy doesn't come wrapped in plastic. I often store leftovers in plastic containers (including reused yogurt containers, which probably isn't a good idea), but will be looking into getting glass containers, possibly as a birthday gift (hint).

To find out more about plastic pollution and ways to prevent it from damaging the environment and living things, check out Plastic Pollution Coalition.

To find ways to keep plastic out of your food, visit Life Without Plastic.