Can you think of two everyday materials with a worse environmental rep than Styrofoam and plastic bottles? From production through disposal, these things produce toxic gasses, are major culprits in our single-use disposable culture, and are rapidly invading our oceans and destroying marine food chains. This week’s guests on Sea Change Radio are each working on eco-friendly alternatives to these environmental villains.
First, we hear from Eben Bayer, one of the founders of Ecovative, a company that has developed a mushrom-based alternative to extruded polystyrene foam (more commonly known by its copyrighted name, Styrofoam). He tells us how Ecovative’s biologically-based material is replacing packing materials, insulation and maybe soon food storage containers that were previously the exclusive domain of polluting, non-biodegradable stuff. Next, host Alex Wise talks to Rick Eye, CEO of Blue Can Pure Water, a company offering an alternative to those ubiquitous plastic water bottles: on-the-go water in aluminum cans. He explains why it has taken so long for this much better idea to spring up, and discusses how he’s doing his part to reduce plastic waste.
“There’s so much plastic in this culture that vinyl leopard skin is becoming an endangered synthetic.” -Lily Tomlin
We all know plastic is a problem. It has been estimated that between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are manufactured across the world each year. In the US alone, 12 million barrels of oil go toward plastic bag production. And with the popularity of bottled water, the number of plastic bottles disposed of every year around the world has soared to 200 billion. This massive use of “disposable” plastics creates an enormous amount of harmful waste, and exacerbates our unhealthy reliance on petroleum. So what is to be done?
This week on Sea Change Radio we speak with the leader of an organization that’s trying to raise awareness of a particular plastic problem, and with a scientist whose team is developing a new process that could help actually solve the plastic problem. First, we talk with Doug Woodring, a Hong Kong-based entrepreneur and environmentalist whose Project Kaisei is making strides to highlight the enormous floating plastic mass in the North Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then we hear from the head of IBM’s Almaden Research Center, Chandrasekhar “Spike” Narayan, who describes his team’s latest breakthrough, an earth-friendly, endlessly recyclable plastic.