Plastic Bottles for Homes

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Source: plasticbottlevillage.com

A Canadian man, Robert Bezeau, who lives in Bocas del Toro, Panama, woke up from a dream one night that transformed the future of a village – and our perception of plastic bottles. Bezeau dreamed of a village where everything was made of bottles and instead of leaving the idea dormant in his mind, he decided to act on his vision and turn it into a reality.

One hundred and fifty million tones of plastic waste are estimated to be floating in our oceans, and at the current pace it is predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Assuaging this brutal prediction, Bezeau’s company, Plastic Bottle Village, builds houses, roads, and more from plastic bottles that are collected from the surrounding communities. Continue reading

An Object Lesson on Tote Bags

We discovered the “essay and book series about the hidden lives of ordinary things” called Object Lessons through The Atlantic a few months ago, when we shared an article on real cheese. Today, I learned an unsettling – and to borrow from Al Gore – inconvenient truth about tote bags. Pretty much any time I go grocery shopping I use a couple reusable totes, unless I need some plastic shopping bags to replenish my trash-can liner supply, so what the folks at Object Lessons have to say about the issue is very informative about how we need to change the way we look at certain everyday objects:

For at least a few decades, Americans have been drilled in the superiority of tote bags. Reusable bags are good, we’re told, because they’re friendly for the environment. Disposable bags, on the other hand, are dangerous. Municipalities across the country have moved to restrict the consumption of plastic shopping bags to avoid waste. Many businesses have stopped offering plastic sacks, or provide them for a modest but punitive price. Bag-recycling programs have been introduced nationwide.

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Podcast: The Magic of Salt

Yuya Shino / Reuters via The Atlantic

Almost exactly five years ago, I quoted Mark Kurlansky’s book focused on the history of an Atlantic fish species, Cod. I knew he’d written another book on the history of salt, but haven’t read it yet. With a podcast episode from Gastropod that was featured in The Atlantic recently, I got a nice summary of the subject and learned even more about the current issues revolving around sodium.

Salt is a magical substance. It reduces bitterness, enhances sweetness, boosts flavor, and preserves perishable foods. Without it, we would die: The human body can’t make sodium, but our nerves and muscles don’t work without it. It was considered rare until quite recently, so it’s hardly surprising that, throughout history, salt has been the engine behind empires and revolutions. Today, there’s a new battle in the salt wars, between those who think that we eat too much of it and it’s killing us—and those who think most of us are just fine. Join us for a serving of salt, seasoned with science, history, and a little politics.

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Some Sea Snakes Lead Dehydrated Lives

Photo © NatGeo

Sea snakes are interesting creatures, and we’ve written about them before, both as heat-stealers in an article on kleptothermy and as victims of uncontrolled fishing for “medicinal” purposes in the Gulf of Thailand. Science writer Ed Yong discusses one particular species of sea snake that lives so permanently in the Pacific ocean that it barely gets to drink fresh water, apart from what it skims off the ocean surface during rains:

If someone asked you to think about a global animal that has spread over much of the earth, you’ll probably think of something like the brown rat, the rock pigeon, or us humans. You probably won’t think about the yellow-bellied sea snake.

It’s a striking animal—two to three feet in length, with a black back and yellow belly. And it is extraordinarily far-ranging for a snake. It lives throughout the Pacific Ocean, which is already more area than all the continents combined, and the Indian Ocean too. Of all the tetrapods—the animal group that includes mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians—this little-known snake is one of the most abundant and widespread.

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