Environmental Protection & Sustainability- Waste Instilled with New Life & Purpose

 by Jia-Jheng Yeh

As the importance of environmental protection and sustainability become more prevalent, governments, enterprises, and the public have also begun to pay attention to waste recycling. People also advocate green production, source reduction, recycling, and reuse. The following are some eco-friendly works by Makers using wastes.

Coffee capsules turned into figures

Many people are busy with work and do not have time to make coffee, so they turn to coffee capsules. However, discarded capsules are wasteful and not environmentally friendly. To change this situation, Bo-Wei Lu, a barista at a coffee shop, sees that coffee capsules are like small plastic puzzles that can be put together to form a bigger picture. Based on this idea, Lu builds figures like Tyrannosauruses and elephants using these small parts. It is the perfect combination of art and environmental protection as well as waste recycling.

Recycled rice husk for face mask

There are about 540,000 tons of rice husks produced in Taiwan each year, but they are not easily decomposed. They will affect the growth of crops if buried in the ground and will pollute the air if burned. People usually dry them and spread them on the farmland to prevent the growth of weeds or simply feed them to chickens. Now, a team from the Department of Chemical and Material Engineering of National Ilan University came up with an idea to recycle rice husks and extracted the xylitol within through hydrolysis technology. Biodegradable materials, such as polycaprolactone and chitosan are used, along with nanofibers produced through electrospinning. Then these materials can be put together to produce skin-friendly dressings such as face masks and artificial skins. This project is still at the stage of testing the dressing regarding their cell activity or antibacterial effects. There are sometimes insufficient raw materials due to low rice yields. Therefore, there are still tests to run before the mask can be commercialized.

Rice husk turned into face mask (Source: Uonline NCCU)

Marine debris turned into sneakers

Today, a large amount of plastic materials is scattered as waste all over the world and they can really harm the ecosystem. Since 2015, Adidas has been cooperating with Parley for the Oceans in a plastic reduction project, launching the first jogging shoes ever made from plastic waste and discarded fishing nets, also known as “ghost nets,” found in the ocean. The project aims to raise awareness of the public for the challenges we face in marine pollution. Adidas has devoted itself to the reduction project for a long time, by starting from not producing virgin plastics to the recycling of those found in the ocean. So far, Adidas has successfully decomposed discarded PET bottles, motherboards, and other plastic wastes to reproduce Primeblue, a high-performance and eco-friendly yarn that is 100% sourced from recycled plastic.

Conclusion

Environmental awareness has become more mainstream today. In addition to saving energy, Makers also put into practice their creativity to instill new life into wastes. This not only reduces the waste of resources but also sends a message in promoting a sustainable environment to the public.

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