designboom TECH predictions 2019: let's stop plastic pollution

designboom TECH predictions 2019: let's stop plastic pollution

as the year turns over you can’t help but be a little existential. humanity has a plethora of issues and you find yourself wanting to do something about it. what area of life would you love to transform in 2019? there’s no better place to start than one of nature’s greatest gifts: water. according to our research there has been a new shift towards ocean activism as the pollution of our seas gains worldwide attention. the threat of plastic is real and you could get a surge of motivation to change your lifestyle because of it.

designboom TECH predictions 2019: let's stop plastic pollution

instead of seagrass, seahorses are now clutching onto cotton swabs to ride currents
photograph by justin hofman
image via national geographic
header image: parley’s ocean plastic program puts marine plastic pollution in the global spotlight



once upon a time plastic simply meant ‘pliable and easily shaped’. a disposable material that ushered a new dawn of ‘throwaway living’. according to national geographic, today ‘roughly 40 percent of the now more than 448 million tons of plastic produced every year is disposable, much of it used as packaging intended to be discarded within minutes after purchase.’ now its a vast category of materials called polymers, making up a big part of the plastic waste that’s now choking our oceans. once thrown away, plastic finds itself on a worldwide expedition, sponging up toxins to add to the ones already in them, waiting to be eaten by marine life, maybe even make it on your plate, and then end up in your poo.

designboom TECH predictions 2019: let's stop plastic pollution

ocean plastic collectors are the forefront when it comes to solving plastic pollution
this one from CREAX uses the DNA of plastic particles and plankton to spot the difference
image courtesy of CREAX



the tide is turning on plastic and you might be wondering how best to navigate the changing seas? be open to unconventional ideas. there are innovative ways of making, reusing and recycling plastic that are set to change our relationship with this extraordinary material. bioplastics is the word on everyone’s lips: made from plant crops instead of fossil fuels, scientists are developing materials that could be used in a great deal of single-use products currently made from synthetic plastic. in 2018 LEGO made its vegetation figures from a plastic made from sugar cane, reebok debuted its corn + cotton trainers featuring a bioplastic sole, and designers created an edible bio-plastic for athlete energy gels.

designboom TECH predictions 2019: let's stop plastic pollution

studio freischärler envisions an ever-growing floating city built from recycled ocean plastic
image courtesy of studio freischärler



a change is in the air as big brands and vast nations look forward to phasing plastics out…but will it be enough? it was recently reported that 90.5% of the world’s plastic has never been recycled. as well as changing attitudes towards waste disposal, our uses of plastic will need to be revised. kenya recently joined a growing list of nations that have banned plastic bags, imposing steep fines and jail time on violators. france has promised it to ban plastic plates and cups by 2020. in the UK, the US and in canada, bans on plastic microbeads in cosmetics have already come into force. meanwhile, coca-cola, pepsico, amcor, and unilever, have pledged to convert to 100 percent reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by 2025.

designboom TECH predictions 2019: let's stop plastic pollution

street view of freischärler’s futuristic city showing the pedestrian zone on sea level 
image courtesy of studio freischärler



there is a new attitude shift toward this growing problem so its a good time to radar in on someone with similar points of view. after all, individually, we are one drop. together, we are an ocean. take boyan slat, the CEO and founder of the ocean clean-up, a non-profit organisation based in the netherlands whose mission is to literally clean the ocean. he is charging ahead with his teenage vow to clean up the largest garbage patch in the north pacific having raised more than $30 million to construct an ocean-sweeping machine that is still under development.

designboom TECH predictions 2019: let's stop plastic pollution

initiative like the ocean cleanup could save us from drowning in plastic
image courtesy of erwin zwart / the ocean cleanup



the concern about rising levels of plastic in our oceans isn’t going anywhere. there is a rise in consciousness and an increase in designs made with ocean plastic. as the guardian reports brands including gucci, stella mccartney and adidas are increasingly partnering with organisations such as parley for the oceans – which raises awareness of the destructive effect of ocean plastics. designers are even starting to envision a world where cities entire city infrastructures are defined by this growing problemall things signal a powerful turning point in the next chapter of plastic production and pollution!

  • I am all for a plastic tax. Remember when some company’s had a bottle return policy and most packaging was made from natural materials.

    roem says:

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