Break Free From Plastic

Beyond the super worms: one simple step you can take to stop plastic pollution


10 Aug 2017

Written by

Sara Muznik


Plastic is a revolutionary material that lasts up to 100-500 years depending on its type. However, when we use this material to create something like a plastic bag, with an average life span on 25 minutes, we have a problem. Our oceans are heavily polluted and 80% of the marine litter is plastic. While the scale of our plastic pollution grows, we like to wait around for a prodigious solution that will make it disappear. This time, it seems to be worms that are coming to our rescue.

In case you haven’t heard, a study at Stanford University has found that wax worms eat plastic. The microorganisms in their gut biodegrade the plastic in the process, say the researchers. Those wax worms usually live of wax in bee hives. Digesting beeswax involves breaking down similar types of chemical bonds as in polyethylene (which is a type of plastic). Although much is still unknown, the study has been praised as a unique solution to plastic pollution.

It is not the first time such magical solutions have been presented. Although an interesting study, how are we going to use this information when it comes to the industry and consumers behaviour? At the rate of 1 million plastic bags used globally every minute, solutions such as feeding plastic to wax worms are not only costly and unrealistic to implement, but also a bad excuse. Worms won’t save us from our wasteful lifestyles, only we can do that.

The huge plastic pollution problem actually has a simple, straightforward solution: to have less plastic waste, we should just use less plastic. That involves producing, consuming and throwing away fewer plastic items, especially single-use ones.

And the change is much easier than one might expect. Refusing plastic bags and making sure you have a reusable bag at hand when you go grocery shopping is a great first step to reducing your plastic waste. You can use reusable bags for your fruits and veggies too!

Each July the 3rd, scores of organisations and citizens all over the world celebrate the International Plastic Bag Free Day, to raise awareness about the problems of using single-use plastic bags. Taking a reusable bag to the store with you is a simple and yet concrete first step towards a world free from plastic pollution. Let’s quit waiting for some worms to save us, and make everyday a plastic bag free day.

Find out more about the incredible actions taken around the world on International Plastic Bag Free Day 2017!

More information:

National Geographic

Science Daily

The Guardian