Plastic is extremely versatile and abundant. When it was discovered some hundred years ago, it enabled us to go through amazing medical, energy, and technological innovations that would otherwise be impossible. But now that we've advanced so far, the next step would be to realize the effects of our past actions. Right now there is active research going into mitigating the plastic pollution issue.
On Sunday, April 23, I attended the Swept Away: Love Letter to a Surrogate event, where I participated in Professor Vesna’s Octopus Mandala piece. This event was a continuation of an artistic presentation that occurred on the East Coast, in which West Coast artists were responding to what was previously performed.
In this class we are focusing on plastic usage. In the TED Talk video, https://youtu.be/9GMbRG9CZJw, there is a compound that was briefly, polyvinyl chloride. The reason this sticks out to the me is that this specific compound has recently been the subject of a disaster. On March 27, 2021, a train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, causing a spill of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) into a nearby river and the surrounding environment.
Last week we learned about the history of Plastic and how it gradually invades and consumes our Earth. Plastic was once praised as an ultimate alternative to replace nature's harms (i.e. ivory, tree, fur, etc.) What is Plastic? It is any material made of polymers that are just large molecules consisting of the same repeating subunit.
Plastic is a ubiquitous material that has revolutionized modern society. It is lightweight, durable, and inexpensive, making it ideal as a cheaper alternative to rare materials. However, the widespread use of plastic has also led to significant environmental pollution, as plastic does not biodegrade and can take hundreds of years to decompose.
After this week’s discussion of plastic pollution, I was especially interested in the prospect of using fungi to streamline plastic decomposition in landfills. Particularly, we learned that the Pestalotiopsis mushroom native to the rainforests of Ecuador is able to consume plastic in oxygen-deprived environments like landfills.
This week, we learned about plastic. While I knew on a surface level that plastic is an incredibly popular material that is becoming a very serious problem for our environment, I was surprised to see how incredibly detrimental our plastic use is to our living situation. As of now, the US disposes of 27 million tons of plastic in landfills, and over 8 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1960s (Vasarhelyi, 2021).
During class this week, we discussed the history of plastic and how prevalent it has become in the modern day. I didn't realize that plastic had such a deep and complex history, which dates back to the 19th century. Since then, it has undergone many different changes and shifts to get to the type of plastic we know and use today: polyethylene terephthalate. Another shocking fact from the video was just how common plastic is in countless products. Some of the products that were made from plastic were logical (e.g. plastic water bottles) while others were a lot more shocking (e.g.
I found our discussion of plastics this week to be extremely interesting. I never really thought about the prevalence of this simple material and the role it plays in our daily lives. Almost everything we touch and use is made from plastics!
With the demand for “green” products and the call for sustainability, biodegradable plastics rose as one of the top solutions to solve the plastic waste problem. Plastic consumption has increased fourfold in the last three decades, primarily due to the expansion of developing economies. Worldwide plastic production has also doubled between 2000 and 2019, reaching a total of 460 million tons.
This week in class we covered the history of plastic. The TED-Ed video we watched was very informational; who would have thought searching for alternatives for billiard balls would lead to the creation of the first plastic! I was very shocked, however, at just how negative of an impact our use of plastics has on the environment, and even us humans. Something new I learned from lecture was that trees are not the primary producers of oxygen on this planet; plankton actually produce the majority!
In class, one thing that really stuck out to me was how much of our oxygen comes from plankton. I knew organisms besides trees (such as algae) produce a significant amount of oxygen, but I did not know how plankton was responsible for so much of it. I was researching and this discovery was made within the past decade.
This week we talked about plastic, plankton, octopi, and artificial intelligence. I wanted to take an optimistic approach to this blog by looking at how new technologies are being used to address the problem of plastic pollution. I started by watching one of the recommended videos by VICE about current efforts to get rid of plastic in the oceans. The video points out that microplastics permeate all trophic levels of the open ocean food web, and that by eating fish we may inadvertently be ingesting microplastics.