PIECE of CAKE: easy food-related plastic reductions

5 ways to reduce the daily plastic:

  1. Don’t eat out – or if you do, make it a special, sit-down occasion at least. Avoid places that use disposable tableware and packaging.
  2. Pack your own breakfast and lunch. When you are out and about, the more you are able to control your meals and packaging choices, the more you will be able to cut back on unnecessary disposables. You will also save money. When packing your meal, choose:
    • utensils that can be washed and reused over and over again
    • food containers that can be washed and reused again
    • cloth napkins that can be machine washed
    • reusable beeswax food storage wraps for sandwiches or bowl lids (https://smile.amazon.com/Bees-Wrap-Assorted-Sustainable-Honeycomb/)
    • a lunch box or bag that can be used over and over again
    • a drink bottle, canteen, or even a cup
  3. When ordering take out food online, make a note in the special instructions section requesting, “No plastic utensils or sauce packets necessary” (or tell them on the phone if online ordering is not an option).. this saves a huge amount of wasted single use plastic
  4.  When eating out at a restaurant or cafe, bring your own lidded container from home to use as a doggie bag or “to go” box. Keep a stash of clean containers and lids (tupperware, gladware, glassware, etc.) in the trunk of your car, in your bag or desk drawer, ready for when ever that eating out day spontaneously arrives. Usually, restaurants supply boxes when you cannot finish all of your food and you would like to take the leftovers  home. However, more often than not, the container they provide is a kind of crazy toxic super-plastic, it is polystyrene or styrofoam. Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and floats. Large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world. It is considered a main component of marine debris. (https://green-mom.com/styrofoam-bad-environment/)
  5. When grocery shopping:
    • Also bring and use your own cloth bags when you are doing your big grocery shopping. For a smaller trip, have a handy bag that can be folded really neat and small in your pocket or purse. Or if the purchase is just a single item or two – tell the cashier, “No sack, please”
    • And if you are shopping and go to check out, only to realize you have forgotten your cloth bags, do not stress – you have two choices here: ask for paper bags or buy a few reusable bags if that is an option. Now most groceries are selling reusable totes next to the register that advertise the logo of their store for around one dollar.
    • instead of wasting plastic to bag your produce, try reusable cloth produce bags (https://smile.amazon.com/Biodegradable-Recyclable-Packaging-Double-Stitched-Small-Medium-Large/)
    • or reuse your plastic produce bags – simply save the plastic bags by folding them neatly after you have unloaded your produce into appropriate bowls and containments, and store them inside of your cloth grocery bags and take them with you next time you go to the grocery

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles – by accident.

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. 

“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”

About 1m plastic bottles are sold each minute around the globe and, with just 14% recycled, many end up in the oceans where they have polluted even the remotest parts, harming marine life and potentially people who eat seafood. “It is incredibly resistant to degradation. Some of those images are horrific,” said McGeehan. “It is one of these wonder materials that has been made a little bit too well.”

(Excerpt from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-create-mutant-enzyme-that-eats-plastic-bottles)

Contact scientists and universities for ways to contribute and make donations for further research:

University of Portsmouth, UK. School of Biological Sciences

  • Professor John McGeehan, BSc, PhD. Professor of Structural Biology/ Co-Director- Institute of Biomedical & Biomolecular Science
  • Email: John.McGeehan@port.ac.uk
  • Telephone: 023 9284 2042
  • http://www2.port.ac.uk/school-of-biological-sciences/outreach-and-liaison/

Keio University, Tokyo, Japan. Department of Biosciences and Informatics