Plastic Trash Rides Ocean Currents to the Arctic

ocean trash
ocean trash

Remember the last plastic straw you used? It may have simply ended up in a landfill. But there’s also a good chance that straw just began a very long journey. Maybe it tumbled out of a garbage truck, for example. The wind might have blown it to a site where rainwater washed it into some stream. Eventually, it might have floated down to the ocean. If that straw hitched a ride on an ocean current, it might have kept traveling. A new study finds that ocean currents send a surprising amount of plastic trash from the North Atlantic up into the Arctic.

And because plastic doesn’t readily break down in the environment, it can stick around long enough to cause trouble. Animals can get tangled in plastic netting or bags. Some critters may mistake it for food and eat it. From tiny plankton to the fish on our plates to sea birds and even whales, plastic increasingly has been finding its way onto the dinner menu of creatures around the world.

Andrés Cózar wanted to know just how far plastic waste travels — and where most of it ends up. Cózar is an oceanographer at the University of Cádiz in Puerto Real, Spain. He worked with scientists from eight different countries for his new study. The team spent five months traveling by boat around the Arctic Ocean.

sampling path
This map shows where researchers collected plastic from Arctic waters. The swooping green lines in the Atlantic Ocean show where the major currents flow.

They motored between Greenland and Norway, along the northern coast of Russia, past Alaska and Canada, and down into the Labrador Sea between North America and Greenland. Along the way, they collected samples of debris from 42 places in the ocean.

To do this, they dragged a net behind their boat. The researchers placed the net just below the water’s surface and dragged it for 20 minutes at a time as they traveled. Openings in the netting were tiny — between one-third and one-half of a millimeter (0.01 to 0.02 inch). Water could flow through them, but small pieces of plastic — called…

Brewing Company Has the Tastiest Solution for Food Waste

There is so much surplus bread being created in the UK every year, that homeless shelters can’t even take in any more loafs destined for the trash.

That’s why this brewing company has a delicious solution for their country’s food waste problem.

Toast Ale is a UK-based craft beer company that has created a tasty beer recipe that is made out of bread saved from landfills. The founder, food waste activist Tristram Stuart, makes sure that 100% of the proceeds go towards Feedback, a charity dedicated to stopping food waste…

UK’s First Zero Waste Store Just Opened – and it’s Wildly Popular

Everyone knows the common saying “waste not, want not” – but this couple has taken it to a whole other level.

Nicola and Richard of Devon, England became tired of taking heaps upon heaps of their recycling to the city center. They were frustrated by the journeys back and forth, and surprised at just how much waste the two of them made.

Then, the couple got an idea.

“We had seen an article of a zero waste shop in Berlin, and thought what a great idea it was,” Nicola told the Good News Network. “This combined with our ever growing heap of ‘recycling’ at our apartment … made us want a different way to shop, and there wasn’t one- so we created one!”

Nicola and Richard opened the first Zero Waste Shop in the United Kingdom – and it has been wildly successful.

“All food (even liquids and nut butters) comes loose and gets put directly into the customers own reusable container,” says Nicola. “We reuse, reduce, or recycle as much of the…

This Caterpillar Eats Shopping Bags, Could Solve Plastic Waste Problem, Discover Scientists

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Scientists might have stumbled upon an unexpected way to solve pollution from plastics. A caterpillar bred to be fishing bait is apparently able to biodegrade polyethylene – a commonly used plastic found in shopping bags. With people using around a trillion plastic bags every year, and with up to 40% of them ending up in landfills, this could be a very significant discovery.

The wax worm caterpillar that eats plastic is the larvae of the common insect Galleria mellonella, aka greater wax moth.

The team working on the study, published in the journal Current Biology, included Federica Bertocchini from the Spanish Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria, and biochemists Paolo Bombelli and Christopher Howe from the University of Cambridge in the UK.

The discovery was made by sheer chance when Bertocchini, who is an amateur beekeeper, removed the worms living in a beehive as parasites – a common problem across Europe. She collected them in a plastic bag and soon noticed holes throughout the bag. The worms ate their way out!

This prompted a timed experiment by her team, who placed about a hundred such worms in a plastic bag from a UK supermarket. They realized that the holes…