The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

OoWho? Move over plastic bottles!

OoWho? Move over plastic bottles!

As many people are aware, one of the biggest concerns environmentalists are facing is the use of non-biodegradable products. In particular, plastic. Plastic can be found everywhere in our daily lives. It's used to make grocery bags, package millions of miscellaneous items, and is integrated in toys, kitchen supplies, stationary, and the list goes on and on.

Plastic has become a staple in all sorts of industries. It's synthetic, easy to produce, and fairly durable, so why is plastic so bad? Well it has to do the fact that the material isn't biodegradable. The alternative for now is to try and recycle as much plastic as possible, but this has its own risks too. Melting down and recycling plastic will produce fumes called VOC (volatile organic compounds) that are capable of harming living organisms that reside near the industrial side. The heat needed to melt the plastic also releases carbon emissions, and that's a whole other story.

This along with other harmful effects have caused a new practice to emerge - down cycling. Instead of being recycled into the same product, the plastic is now down cycled to become a different, often less useful product. The processes of down cycling and recycling usually cannot be repeated again after a plastic product has gone through the cycle once, which means although the plastic has sustained a longer lifespan, it will ultimately end up in the landfill too. Plastic bottles are a prime example. In the US alone, approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles were used in the last year, yet only 18 billion were recycled.

So what can we do to combat this? In the past few months, Skipping Rocks Lab has developed an innovative new "water bottle" that is 100% plastic free! These squishy, orb-like containers go by the name of Ooho. They are made out of a brown algae and calcium chloride membrane, and biodegrade in about 4-6 weeks after production. To drink the water inside, you simply pierce the membrane with your teeth and slurp away!

What's great about this product is that the production costs are cheaper than plastic as well. During the industrial process, the manufacturing of Ooho produces 5 times less the amount of carbon dioxide emissions and uses 9 times less the amount of energy needed to synthesize plastic.

The company is hoping to start integrating Ooho by having it available at events such as festivals and marathons and slowly make it's way to the mainstream market. Although skeptics criticize that Ooho will never truly replace the conventional water bottle, there's no denying that it certainly is a step in the right direction.

- Bonnie


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