GOOD

Brewery Produces Six-Pack Rings That Turtles Can Eat

Put your flippers together for a six-pack that even seabirds can support

Put your flippers together for an innovation in beer brewing and sustainability: six-pack rings that biodegrade. Billed as “edible six-pack rings,” the concept is aimed at eliminating those indestructible plastic six-pack rings that kill countless turtles, fish and birds every year.


While it’s still a few months away from large-scale production, response to the technology has been, shall we say, enthusiastic? A promotional video was released by Florida’s Saltwater Brewery less than a week ago and already has more than 9 million views on Facebook.

“We've already started to get orders from craft breweries. They want to know how quickly we can ramp up to bring this product to market,” says We Believers partner Marco Vega, one of the brains behind the product. “The response has been phenomenal.”

Short of a lame aside from a beer bro to hot blonde, and what I’m pretty sure are CGI fish, the video is pretty nifty. After all, who doesn’t want to take credit for saving marine wildlife while simultaneously drinking beer?

While their original concept was packaging made out of seaweed, the development team quickly scrapped that idea, says Vega. “Why would we be taking seaweed out of the sea? That was not going to be very sustainable. That would have been, actually, really dumb," he says. (It should be noted, harvesting seaweed can be very sustainable, if done right.)

Instead, the team’s engineers looked to work already being done on biodegradable sugar cane packaging, and started testing similar materials made from barley and wheat leftover from the brewing process. In the long term, ring manufacturing facilities could be nestled between craft beer hubs across North America, and produce each unit for about 15 and 20 cents, which is equivalent to other eco-friendly versions out there now.

But before you jump headfirst onto the ringwagon, there is one catch. According to NOAA veterinarian and sea turtle expert Brian Stacy, these new rings are being billed as “edible” but aren’t quite fish food—they haven’t been tested on animals yet.

“Whenever anybody takes on reducing plastic pollution and finding biodegradable solutions, that's a good thing, and I really applaud them for doing that,” says Stacy, who, as a heartbreaking part of his job, frequently finds dead turtles full of tiny pieces of plastic. "I still would want to know more about the product before I said this was fine for a turtle to eat," he says. “They're a protected species.”

Lexie Beach, communication coordinator at the Sea Turtle Conservancy, agrees, pointing out that just because the material is technically edible doesn’t mean turtles, fish or other wildlife should or will eat it. “Marine debris is one of the biggest killers of sea turtles especially. Even the tiniest pieces of plastic can clog up their stomachs, especially if they’re hatchlings, and that can be fatal,” she says.

Beach is speaking here from an abundance of caution, however. “Just as long as it’s not plastic rings that are going to stay in the water for hundreds of thousands of years,” she concedes. “We’re all for the technology.”

At the end of the day, Saltwater Brewery is still considering this a value-added accessory to their bread-and-butter product. (That’s beer.) “We want to create quality beer, but any way we can promote educational awareness of the ocean environment and making sure that it's healthy, that's what we want to do,” says Chris Gove, president of Saltwater Brewery, which already uses an alternative—though still plastic—to the damaging plastic rings.

Since the video launched, Gove’s phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from ocean lovers, but also large competitors who want in on the technology. This, for Vega, is the future of advertising and industrial design.

“This is about having the creative community and the business community, along with engineers, create a better future,” he says. “The network is there, the ideas are there. This is the time when these things can become real.”

We’ll drink to that.

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health