We all know that the world is drowning in trash but when you find out that we throw away enough to fill up the world’s largest container ship every two hours, every effort to reduce that is important.
Fortunately, modern technology and human innovation have produced some pretty creative ways that we can tackle the trash problem. For now, these examples only exist in certain countries but it would definitely benefit everyone if these technologies became widespread. After all, we all live on the same planet.
1 – Newspapers that grow into plants when planted
Even if a lot of the news is disseminated through digital means nowadays, there are still tons of paper that go to the waste bin every day.
This is why Japanese designer Yoshinaka Ono invented a 100% biodegradable “green” paper that not only dissolves but also turns into a plant because of the embedded plant seeds (of course, you still need to plant it in the ground and water it).
The idea has been adopted by The Mainichi Newspaper.
2 – Getting rewards for turning in plastic bottles
While reverse vending machines are pretty common especially in environmentally-friendly countries like Germany and in IKEA stores in the UK, other countries went a step further to encourage its citizens to use these things.
In Istanbul, Turkey, and Beijing, China, there are special machines there that add credits to your subway card for using reverse vending machines. Simply insert a plastic bottle or aluminum can and the machine will immediately crush them while giving you a few cents on your card. Definitely a win-win!
3 – Reusing old mascara wands for baby animals
The New Arc rescue center in Scotland use old mascara wands to clean little orphans as well as remove mites and fleas from them. So if your mascara runs out, clean the wand in warm soapy water, put in a Ziploc bag, and send it to the rescue center.
Other rescue centers such as Wildlife Aid in the UK and Appalachian Wildlife Refuge in the US also accept used mascara wands.
4 – Products that are package-free
With the popularity of the zero waste movement, more and more stores are responding to this particular demand by offering products in large containers and buckets with scoops so that customers can purchase products without needing to go through disposable packaging.
Of course, this means you need to bring your own containers but that’s a small price to pay for saving the planet. At checkout, these containers are weighed to calculate how much you owe.
5 – Wet wipes that can be flushed
Most wet wipes on the market are made from polypropylene, a type of plastic. While they shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, most people still do and tend to result in blocked sewers.
British company Natracare guarantees that the wipes they produce are organic and kind to the environment. It is the only tissue product in the UK that was given “Fine to Flush” certification.
6 – Using avocado pits to make cutlery
Usually, it’s better to eat food with reusable utensils in order to be eco-friendly. But sometimes, single-use cutlery is needed and Mexican company Biofase has come up with a creative way to use avocado pits to make single-use cutlery such as knives, forks, spoons, and straws.
This unique bio-plastic decomposes in only a few years meaning it doesn’t pollute the environment.
7 – Taking in plastic bottle caps for charity
People in Spain have a habit of collecting bottle caps and it started with a story about a 7-year-old girl who needed heart surgery whose parents couldn’t afford it.
A plastic processing company offered to help on the condition that they collect 200 tons of plastic. So people banded together and put up collection containers for plastic cops practically everywhere so that the necessary amount of plastic was collected within a few weeks.
The idea took hold and collecting plastic caps for charity has become a thing in Spain.
8 – Sharing cups
We all like to get our coffee or juice fix and when we’re on the go, that usually means dropping by the nearest coffee shop or juice stand to get our drinks. But that also means using disposable cups and containers which make up roughly half of all trash collected in public trash cans.
This is why Canadian cup-share program CUPPY is trying to get everyone in on a cup-sharing scheme where you have unlimited access to reusable cups for $5 a year. After you join the program, you place an order at a coffee shop and take the cup with you. After you’re done with your drink, simply find a participating store or cafe where you can return the cup.
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