The Great Pacific garbage patch, also described as the Pacific trash vortex is a giant island of plastic in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. The patch is made of plastic, chemical sludge and other debris trapped by the current of the North Pacific Gyre. The size of the patch is unknown. Estimates of size range from 700000 square kilometres (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (about the size of Russia).
Plastic is a synthetic compound and not naturally present in Nature. This means that Nature doesn’t have machines and tools for its degradation. As result, plastic accumulates in the environment and also in marine water. Even worse, plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while maintaining its chemical structure. As it disintegrates, it ultimately becomes small enough to be recognised as food by aquatic organisms. This is how plastic is slowly entering the food chain.
The garbage patch is currently killing tonnes of animals and the plastic is slowly entering the food chain.
Rodrigo Gonzales and Yves Paslier, a lecturer and student at the Imperial College of London decided to address the problem of plastic pollution. They designed and created a new membrane to carry water. This membrane, made out of seaweed and calcium carbonate, is totally biodegradable and also edible.
The most incredible part of this story is that these guys didn’t want their idea to remain inside the wall of the ivory tower. They understood the revolutionary potential of the new water bottle from the start. So, they decide to make a business plan and seek for investments to bring their invention into the market. Successfully, in 2014 they created their start-up, Skipping Rocks Labs, and their vision is to provide a waste-free alternative to plastic bottles and cups. This material isn’t only more sustainable than plastics but actually cheaper. Ooho can encapsulate any beverage including water, soft drinks, spirits and cosmetics.
Skipping Rocks Lab has been growing more and more ever since. It is part of the Climate KIC start-up acceleration program founded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology. Additionally, it was awarded the 2014 Lexus Design Award, the 2014 World Technology Award, 2015 SEA Award and 2016 UK Energy Globe Award.
Rodrigo and Yves also managed to overcome the barrier of the consumer acceptance. The Ooho water bubbles have been already sold around London and the start-up managed to secure the water supply dispenser at the London Marathon 2018.
Accepting new ideas and changing our habits is part of achieving a sustanable future and developement.
Even your small contribution can make a change. So, if you happen to be in London, do give it a chance and try to drink from this new water bottle.