Scientists discovered a mushroom that eats plastic, and believe it could clean our landfills.


Fungi Mutarium mushroom eats plastic www.youtube.com


Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time. And while a straw ban is not the way we're going to solve it — here's why – people everywhere are looking for ways to reduce plastic use and mitigate the effects of waste.

From handing out plastic bags with embarrassing labels to removing the plastic from six-packs to harnessing the power of a plastic-eating mutant (bacteria), more and more of us are working to find solutions to a growing global program.

Add one more strange and awesome plastic-killing discover to the list: A rare mushroom that feasts on plastic the same way you or I would when we go to that $5 buffet at Cici's. (I have been only once and I'm still thinking about it, even though just the thoughts are bad for my blood pressure.)


According to reports, the mushroom's plastic-devouring properties were first discovered in 2011, when a team of Yale undergraduates and their professor traveled to Ecuador for a research trip. They found the mushroom — Pestalotiopsis microspora — in the amazon and were astounded to find that the fungus not only subsists on polyurethane (it's the first plant to sustain itself only on plastic), but could do so without oxygen.

That means it could be planted at the bottom of landfills and happily eat its fill of plastic for eons to come! (Just like us at Cici's pizza!)


IRAQ-SOCIETY-POVERTY AFP/Getty Images


Despite our best efforts at increasing conservation and reducing waste, the U.S. continues to produce more plastic waste each year, while other recent studies suggest that recycling of plastic waste is actually declining.

The amount of plastic waste that we're producing is estimated to rise 3.8% each year, with an estimated 40 million tons of plastic waste expected to be generated in 2019 alone by American companies and consumers. National Geographic says that over the past 60 years, we've created an estimated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste. An astonishing 83.7% of that waste is expected to end up in landfills. Anything we can do to put a dent into the damage we're creating could make a world of difference for us and the planet.


NEPAL-ENVIRONMENT-RECORD AFP/Getty Images


Will these mushrooms be the end to our plastic problems? More research is needed to tell. Until then, we can all help keep landfills cleaner by avoiding single-use plastics in our lives.

via The White House / Flickr

The Biden administration has put a focus back on science, and for most Americans, it's a welcome return.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released on Monday found he has a 63% approval rating, bolstered primarily by his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seventy-one percent of Americans, including 47% of Republicans, approve of how he has handled the pandemic.

The Biden administration has made huge efforts to communicate about the virus in a transparent, science-driven way, and made Herculean efforts to make the vaccine available to all adults. Whereas Trump chose to downplay the pandemic and spread misinformation.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less