Worms and Bacteria that eat Plastic

Disposable plastics are a major issue for the health of the planet. The problem is that plastic takes an incredibly long time to degrade and we keep producing more and more plastic. The plastic just keeps piling up. Unfortunately, very little of the plastic gets recycled and the plastic bottles that are recycled are often not made into new bottles but rather into clothes or bags.

The plastic just makes keeps adding to landfills and gets into the ocean. It kills animals that eat the plastic and this can have a really bad effect on the ecosystem in the long run. Unfortunately people also don’t seem to be trying too hard to minimize plastic consumption and so the market for disposable plastics is doing very well. Also, some disposable plastic materials are necessary for our modern society. This is really bad news for the planet and all life on it in the long run unless we can figure out a way to destroy the plastic.

It looks like nature already did the hardest part for us. Scientists have discovered that there are worms and bacteria that can actually eat plastic. Part of the reason why plastic takes so long to degrade is that it is such a new and unique material to the earth that scientists think that no bacteria or organism had evolved to break it down yet. Well it looks like those days are over.

In 2016 Japanese researchers said that a bacteria named Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6 can break down polyethylene terephthalate, also known as polyester. This is one of the most used plastics in the world. They believe that the bacteria adapted to its environment and evolved to be able to eat plastic. Since then scientists isolated the enzyme that allows the bacteria to do this. They then tried experimenting with it to try and understand how the enzyme evolved and in doing so made the enzyme even better at breaking down plastic!

Scientists plan to try and use this enzyme to break down plastic and make it back into plastic again so that they do not have to keep making more new plastic. This enzyme could even be used to clean up the plastic that is lying around all over the world. Even better than this is that now scientists discovered a worm that can also eat plastic!

Wax moth larvae can actually eat plastic. Just like the accidental strengthening of the enzyme the bacteria uses to break down plastic, it was accidentally discovered that these worms can eat plastic. A scientist and beekeeper had removed a worm infestation in a beehive and placed them into a plastic bag. She tied the bag but when she came back into her house the bag had an opening and the worms had escaped!

In the lab, these worms were confirmed to be able to eat plastic. 100 worms can eat 92 milligrams of plastic in 12 hours. These two discoveries are great news in the battle against climate change and pollution. Nature has provided us with the tools to destroy the plastics around the world and to be able to reuse those plastics instead of making new ones. If a bacteria has evolved to eat plastic and a worm has been discovered to be able to eat plastic, there could be many other bacteria that have evolved or will evolve to eat plastic and there may be many other organisms that can eat it also. This definitely gives some hope for the future since our modern society in some cases cannot and in most cases will not do without the modern invention of disposable plastic.

The information in this article and more can be found at these links:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/apr/24/plastic-munching-worms-could-help-wage-war-on-waste-galleria-mellonella

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

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/10/could-a-new-plastic-eating-bacteria-help-combat-this-pollution-scourge

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/24/almost-no-plastic-bottles-get-recycled-into-new-bottles.html

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Get A Hobby!

Hobbies are the things that keep us human allow us to keep learning when feeling stagnant. How do we obtain a hobby and what does it do for us?

Finally getting that day off you have been dreaming of. You kick up your feet and binge watch the final season of that show you never got to finish. After taking a long needed nap you wake up and find yourself bored, you don’t know what to do with yourself. You start to eat and watch tv to fulfill your time, but you find it to still be boring and unproductive. You get to the gym to kill more time only to get home and realize its only a little past noon. You can just seem to make the day feel useful or productive. This is a very profound problem that many people specifically young adults and teens have today as they flip through the endless stream of updates on their phone.

Yes, finding a hobby can be difficult, but the journey of finding that thing you love to do can be the most interesting story you have to tell. Hobbies are one of single most important things to find as it keeps your life feeling fulfilled and allow us to keep on learning if our careers seem to be stagnant. A hobby is defined as an activity done on one’s leisure time, so trying to learn something for work or getting ahead on a project won’t count. To find a true hobby its something you do outside of work and is something you find enjoyment out of doing, not like a chore. For me, a hobby is programming, even though its something I will continue to do in my future job, hopefully, I am able to work on independent projects that don’t correlate to any work I am required to do.

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How To Find A Hobby

This is the hardest step in to finding a more meaningful and productive life. Finding the hobby that you always wanted is like trying to apply to very different jobs and see which jobs accept you. You have to try new things every day and see how they feel. If something seems boring just stop right there and move on. If you find enjoyment in a general topic try narrowing it down into different fields until you find the right one for you. A hobby can be as something as simple as reading!

I urge you to not follow the pack as I did to just to stand out or fit in. In the beginning, I tried to do all the typical hobbies a person would expect only to find boredom out of it. Now feeling determined I have found a love for programming and circuits. I no longer feel the need to tell my friends or family about the latest book I am reading to show them that I read on a daily basis, or to show them the latest project I have completed to undermine them.

Stick To It!

One of the things I found time and time again when I was first trying to stick to a hobby is that I felt like was never getting anywhere. I would struggle with the simplest of applications. After figuring out that this was because I never really stuck to it I was determined to keep it in my schedule.

Make sure that when you start your hobby, that thing you love to do, you stick to it. Even if it is reading an article about it on the train on the way to work or possibly a video that will keep the hobby appealing and fresh in your mind. Learning about new techniques or cool projects can also keep your excitement to continue when you get home!

Keep Learning

If you exhausted all resources on a hobby, which is highly unlikely, I encourage you to move on and keep learning. There is an unimaginable amount of resources and topics to learn about that are so interesting and learning is what keeps us at our best! Learning is one of the things that allows us to get up in the morning and know we are going to perform to the best of our ability. Learning is without a doubt one of the most fulfilling things in the universe. No I don’t always mean learning to become a scholar it can even be about working out or determining the most efficient way to complete projects! Keep learning and keep growing!