We’re all aware of the rising problem of plastics, but did you know that the bigger problem is actually . . . micro? Microplastics are a much larger problem than many people realize. But what are microplastics? Microplastics are pieces of plastic smaller than 5mm but a really big problem in our oceans. This affects our ecosystem by giving marine life a toxic feast, something we’ve talked about before.
So what can be done about this growing micro problem? Two teens are tackling this problem head on.
Cleaning with magnets
Fionn Ferreira of Ballydhob, Ireland, was declared the winner of the 2019 Google Science Fair due to his project that examined a new method for extracting microplastics from water. Using ferrofluids—a combination of oil and magnetite powder—and magnets, Ferreira did a series of 1,000 tests to extract microplastics from water samples. His method was able to remove over 87% of microplastics from water, making it a successful first step in research that could be devoted to cleaning up water.
Another teen scientist, Anna Du, took a different route to hunting down microplastics. Du created an AI ROV—remotely operated vehicle—made from PVC pipe that can detect plastics using an infrared camera. While she admits to going through many trials and errors, the fact that she’s invented something just to detect the small, hidden microplastics is a huge achievement!
Who knows? Perhaps in the future, we could see Ferreira and Du team up with a new invention that both detects and cleans!
The fight to reduce plastics continues. Here at Norwex we’re doing our part with our new packaging made from OceanBound Plastic as well as the installation of the first Norwex Seabins in Malta, but did you know you could help too? From replacing your plastic straws to repurposing plastic, together we can make small, conscious choices to help keep our earth clean!