We all use plastic in our daily life. We drink out of plastic bottles. If we go camping, we might use plastic plates and on our Friday-night party we drink out of plastic cups.
However, do we know what happens with it after we used it? Where does the plastic go? Have you never seen these huge stacks of plastic garbage in your neighbourhood? Or on the TV? Or maybe in high school books?
Some of it ends up in recycling places all around the country, that is true; but not all of it. A lot ends up in the ocean. In 2015 the newspaper Science published a study showing that in the year 2010 alone over 8 million tons of plastic ended up in the ocean. If you lift up an empty plastic bottle it almost weights nothing, right? Now imagine how many of them would it take to make 8 million tons.
We can actually make the comparison even easier. Imagine the state of Texas in the USA. Texas is twice as big as France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg combined. The world’s largest collection of ocean garbage is now twice as big as Texas; this means four times as much as France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg.
This plastic becomes smaller and smaller until the fish in the ocean can eat it. Later, we eat the fish and the plastic they have eaten. That does not sound good, does it?
The question arises, why don’t we do something more about recycling. There is the technology to take the used plastic and create something new. This usually happens in big factories. Not all the plastic garbage reaches them.
Let us look at this picture now: we have plastic laying around everywhere and nobody wants it. We also have the technology to make the old plastic into new things again, that we can not only use, but sell. In other words, plastic garbage is money which lays around just waiting for us to pick it up.
Some people came up with this exact idea and they called their project Precious-Plastic (https://preciousplastic.com/). They took exactly the machines which are used in the recycling process and build them not only much smaller, but out of materials, which everybody can easily access. With these machines you can first make the plastic garbage into something neutral, by melting it or putting it in the shredder to make it smaller, and then you can use it to create something new. And this technology is completely free to access. You can go on the website and download the blueprints for the machines. With the help of tutorials on the website or on YouTube, you can then build the machines and start your own plastic fabric.
Lots of ideas are already there and just waiting for us to use it. Make our own plates or a jewellery collection. Make buckets or a latter. We can also create our own outdoor gym out of plastic, if we want to think big.
We can establish a system of collecting plastic in our local neighbourhood and then we can sell what we have newly created or use it ourselves.
More importantly, we do not need a masters-degree in engineering or work-experience as a mechanic to build these machines; just some motivation. If we do not want to build the machines, we can also participate in another way: by collecting the plastic or by selling it. And even if we cannot do anything yourself, maybe our friends can. That is where we all come in. We can share the idea and start connecting with each other.
On www.preciousplastic.com we find the material we need to build our machines, we find the tutorials to learn how to do it and we find a community of people who are already working on it and are just waiting for us to connect with them.
We have a problem with plastic garbage; let us make it an opportunity.