Tag Archives: recycling

Earth Day 2020 and good news about plastic

Daisies and Dandelions flowering on a grassy field on a sunny spring day
Daisies and Dandelions on a sunny day

Yes, this is a photo of daisies and dandelions, not plastic … but they looked so sunny and cheerful and beautiful on this bit of Earth right outside my front door and I just felt they captured the positive ‘living zing’ spirit I wanted to share with you today.

On Wednesday 22 April 2020 we celebrate 50 years of Earth Day. In my 2020 Vision post in early January, I anticipated this year’s Earth Day and all of the marvelous get-togethers there’d be for this auspicious occasion. Coronavirus may have prevented in-person gatherings, but that hasn’t stopped massive plans for a digital Earth Day. As the Earth Day website proudly says

“On April 22, we’re flooding the world with hope, optimism and action. Will you join us?”

WordPress too is joining in with Earth Day Live , which is a 3-day livestream of global climate action in support of this very special place we all call home. You can register to tune in to this massive live event from 22 – 24 April with activists, celebrities, musicians, and all kinds of marvelous stuff. On WordPress you can add the Earth Day Live banner to your site to show your support too.

Talking of our precious planet and marvelous stuff, I have some good news about plastic! Nearly every story we read about plastic is telling us how our over-use and thoughtlessness with this clever material have harmed wildlife and polluted our oceans. So, I was intrigued to read how a company called Carbios has developed a new and fast way of recycling plastic bottles.

An enzyme has been discovered that can break down plastic bottles into their chemical components, enabling them to be recycled into new high quality plastic. Amazingly, a tonne of waste plastic bottles was able to be degraded by 90% in just 10 hours. Carbios are now working with a biotechnology company called Novozymes and they are hoping to have their new plastic recycling enzyme commercially available by 2024.

If you are a gardener, like me, you will also be fascinated to know that this amazing enzyme was first discovered in a compost heap. Making garden compost is a magical transformation in itself, but this latest scientific advance promises to be a significant breakthrough in recycling plastic. It won’t mean our battle against plastic is won, but it could be a very useful step in the right direction.

Looking inside a compost bin half filled with decaying plants and vegetable waste with several snails and slugs looking in on the contents
Looking inside a Compost Bin

Staying with my theme of plastic, our local council newsletter this week was sharing how council library staff are doing their bit in the battle against Covid-19 by using their 3-D printers to produce plastic safety visors for our hospital and care workers as they toil heroically to save lives. In the midst of this crisis, we are seeing all kinds of people pulling together and doing their bit to help others. Anyone who has the equipment and skills to print these safety visors can contact the library service and volunteer to help produce this vital equipment for our front-line workers to protect them in the fight against coronavirus.

Nowadays, we have become used to so often seeing plastic in a negative light, I think its current essential use in Personal Protective Equipment for those on the front-line in the Covid-19 crisis shows just how important this material can be. To me, our over-use of plastic is, in a way, similar to our over-use of antibiotics. They are both substances with life-saving abilities, yet their over-use is a huge threat not only to our human lives but to the natural world too. On the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it doesn’t seem too dramatic to claim that reducing our ubiquitous use of these life-saving substances is so important for the future of life on Earth.

Looking after our Earth is no small responsibility, but I have a good feeling that there are plenty of us who are conditional optimists and prepared to do our bit to make sure the Earth’s future is positive.

Happy Earth Day to you all!

Now I’m off to plant up some shrub cuttings …


Elephant by Kenyan flip-flop recycling company Ocean Sole

Meet Philippe, the Flip-Flop Elephant

We met Philippe, the Flip-Flop Elephant, on a recent town trip. There he was waiting patiently for us to visit him at his new home in Newcastle’s Great North Museum. He’d travelled a very long way – all the way from Kenya, in fact.

Philippe isn’t called “the Flip-Flop Elephant” because he’s a floppy kind of animal. He’s called “the Flip-Flop Elephant” because he is actually made from old flip-flops – those plastic sandals often worn on sunny beaches.

The company who created Philippe is called Ocean Sole. They are a Kenyan company who specialise in recycling old flip-flops that are washed up on Kenya’s Indian Ocean beaches and waterways. The flip-flops are cleaned, cut up and stuck together into blocks and are then carved into animals, jewellery and other useful objects.

I think this is a fabulous example of upcycling. Through their handcrafted creations Ocean Sole are seeking to teach the world about marine pollution. Ocean Sole are recycling man-made rubbish that is being retrieved from one of the world’s most precious ecosystems, the sea. From time to time we see news stories about plastic being one of the major ocean pollutants, but I never envisaged flip-flops being such a big polluter.

Ocean Sole describe thousands of flip-flops being washed up every year. This huge amount of flip-flops has a serious impact on the wildlife along the Kenyan coast. The company aims to recycle 400,000 flip-flops every year! That is a lot of flip-flops!

Not only are Ocean Sole playing their part in cleaning Kenya’s beaches, the business also provides much-needed jobs for the local community. It is wonderful to learn about a company so passionate about one of our most important ecosystems and community-orientated too.

I was inspired!

J Peggy Taylor