This designer transformed cigarette butts into stunning works of art

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Cigarettes are the most littered item in the world. Designer Sachi Tungare wants to turn this waste into beautiful, useful objects. When we think of the trash that pollutes our planet, we tend to imagine things like plastic bags, food wrappers, and straws. But cigarette butts are actually the most littered item in the world, with 4.5 trillion tossed out every year. And it’s not just the toxins that make this such a problem. Cigarettes have a thin plastic filter made of cellulose acetate, which doesn’t decompose but degrades into microplastic that ends up in water streams, harming marine animals. Read Full Story

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Millions of face masks are discarded monthly. What if we turned them into furniture?

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129 billion face masks are produced each month. This designer turned some of them into furniture. The coronavirus has caused devastation around the world, including a new surge in plastic pollution. Every month, an estimated 129 billion plastic face masks and 65 billion gloves are produced. Since plastic doesn’t biodegrade, these items will stay in our landfills and oceans for hundreds of years. Read Full Story

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These hungry superworms happily munch through plastic

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A superworm can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects. Recycling seems like a simple cure for our plastic addiction: Just take the plastic we have and make it into new items. But problems abound. Current technology mostly creates plastic of a lower quality than it was before, many types of plastic aren’t recyclable at all, and much of the plastic is floating in the ocean, not even in the recycling stream. So it’s vital that we find new ways to break down plastic, and scientists have just discovered one: a superworm that can eat about eight times more than other plastic-ingesting insects like mealworms. Read Full Story

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Scientists develop a truly recyclable plastic. Is the world ready for it?

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If we can’t ditch plastic, we can at least make it more recyclable—at least that’s what researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy are proposing with a new material called PDK. The average American generates 220 pounds of plastic waste each year . A vast majority of it is not recycled, even if you send it to a recycling facility. Most plastic ends up in a dump. Read Full Story

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Disposable plastic is bad for the environment, but is it illegal? Coca-Cola and Pepsi are about to find out

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A landmark suit filed in California is putting some of the biggest producers of plastic on trial. Coca-Cola. Nestlé. Pepsi. Mars. P&G. These are some of the world’s most iconic brands. They are also some of the biggest plastic polluters on the planet. They sell goods in single-use plastic containers, which end up in our oceans and never biodegrade. Whether we buy their products or not, we’re all affected by their footprint. And in turn, a landmark lawsuit by the Plastic Pollution Coalition and Earth Island Institute has been filed in California against all of the aforementioned corporations and several other major food, beverage, and consumer product companies. The groups are suing for damages to repair the problem of plastic waste. Read Full Story

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How far does plastic float when it gets tossed in the ocean?

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A scientist put tracking devices on 25 bottles and put them in one of the world’s most polluted river to learn more about how plastic trash moves around the planet. The answer: almost 2,000 miles. The idea of dropping a message in a bottle and having it end up on some distant beach seems largely like a myth. But we know that the plastic we put in the ocean does float far from where we dropped it. How far? After researchers put tracking tags in plastic bottles in the Ganges river, they found that the furthest bottle traveled more than 1,700 miles in about three months. Read Full Story

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Editor’s pick: I’m obsessed with this earth-friendly, non-toxic laundry detergent

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I always wondered what it would feel like to smell rich and save the world at the same time. When I first saw DedCool’s Dedtergent–a new laundry detergent that just hit the market–I couldn’t fathom spending $1 an ounce on a liquid I was throwing into my secondhand washer. But now, I will tout very nice smelling laundry detergent that comes in a 100% recyclable (and stylish) tin as the luxury item we never knew we needed. It’s perfect for sheets, clothes, towels, and intimates (which I don’t wash by hand…oops). But the biggest selling point for spending a few extra dinero on cleaning your clothes? Dedtergent is one of the most environmentally friendly detergents out there. Everyone washes their clothes, and our current options are all packaged in plastic and aren’t exactly non-toxic. Read Full Story

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Three ways Walmart has created a better store

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The shopping giant has recently introduced multiple initiatives to earn 2020 Innovation by Design award recognition. Most people don’t associate Walmart, the original big-box store, with good design. But under VP and head of design Valerie Casey, who has worked at the world’s three most iconic design firms—Pentagram, Ideo, and Frog—that’s changing. “Hundreds of millions of people walk into a Walmart each week,” Casey says. “How do we convert [them] to more satisfied shoppers with digital tools?” Case in point: Ordering grocery pickup from Walmart is now a smoother process than getting grocery delivery from Amazon Prime Now. Walmart lets you add additional items to your order after checkout (Amazon doesn’t), and the company doesn’t increase its shelf prices for the convenience of pickup or delivery (which, during COVID-19, has allowed customers to social distance without paying premiums for service). Here are three initiatives that the company has rolled out …

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This eco-friendly hand sanitizer kills germs and is plastic-free

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By Humankind’s multitasking hand sanitizer kills viruses, moisturizes your skin, and keeps single-use plastic out of landfills. Just over a year after it launched on a mission to eliminate excess packaging and single-use plastic from personal care products, by Humankind has made a name for itself with smartly designed items such as an all-natural refillable deodorant stick, a well-reviewed bar shampoo and conditioner, and just-add-water mouthwash tablets . Read Full Story

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Shifting to plant-based plastic is a start—but it can’t be the only solution to plastic waste

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It would take a major reshaping of global agriculture to generate enough material to replace petroleum-based plastic with plant-based ones. Circularity has to be the end goal. To solve our climate crisis, there’s no doubt that we need to change the way we create—and dispose—of everyday things. Nonrenewable fossil fuels are used to make a nearly endless list of items, from plastic forks to styrofoam packaging to synthetic fabrics to steel and concrete. Not only do these products require limited resources and significant amounts of energy to produce, they can be nearly impossible to get rid of. Our recycling system is inadequate, these materials take thousands of years to break down, and so our planet continues to fill up with trash . Read Full Story

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How can we better dispose of PPE so it doesn’t keep polluting our oceans?

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Six months after the Ocean Conservancy added a PPE category to its waste collection app, beach cleaners said they collected 107,219 such items. It’s another sad reality of the COVID-19 era that some of the steps we’re taking to stay safe and combat the coronavirus spread are often in opposition to hard-fought efforts to curb the use of plastics for a cleaner planet. Early in the pandemic, as the use of reusable items was scaled back for fear of the virus spreading via objects, planned plastic bag bans were rolled back or postponed across the country. What’s more, an entirely new form of plastic pollution has surged—waste from PPE, or personal protective equipment—and we’re just starting to understand its impact. Read Full Story

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