Recipe for antibacterial plastic: Plastic plus egg whites

Bioplastics made from protein sources such as albumin and whey have shown significant antibacterial properties, findings that could eventually lead to their use in plastics used in medical applications such as wound healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery, according to a recent study by the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The bioplastic materials could also be used for food packaging.

Researchers tested three nontraditional bioplastic materials—albumin, whey and soy proteins—as alternatives to conventional petroleum-based plastics that pose risks of contamination.

In particular, albumin, a protein found in egg whites, demonstrated tremendous antibacterial properties when blended with a traditional plasticizer such as glycerol.

"It was found that it had complete inhibition, as in no bacteria would grow on the plastic once applied," said Alex Jones, a doctoral student in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors. "The bacteria wouldn’t be able to live on it."

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we-are-the-cancer asked:

I watched 2 different documentaries last night. One on environmental issues and the other on sj. And I found that the system that oppresses people is eerily similar to the system that is abusing the environment and animals. So it just had me thinking, why don't I see sj blogs talking about the environment and why environmental blogs talking about social justice.

If you ask me, environmental blogs ARE social justice blogs bc animals and the environment are social justice issues. So I absolutely disagree with you that SJ blogs don’t talk about animal abuse and the environment. Also, these issues come up fairly often on my own blog and I see a LOT of other sj blogs talking about them as well. I’m really sad to hear your experience is different but I’m sure that will change in time.  :)

With the Yangtze finless porpoise facing extinction, the Chinese government announced steps to save the species. The plan, which began on March 21, includes moving some of the critically endangered porpoises out of the polluted Yangtze River and into secure conservation areas with hopes of repopulating the species.

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Antarctica #1921, Limited Edition 1/15 by Santiago Vanegas

It’s been a while since I’ve returned from Antarctica and I still can’t fathom having been there. It’s like going to another planet. I’ve never been to another planet, but I imagine this is the closest I’ll ever get to one. Ironically, being in Antarctica is probably the closest I’ll ever feel to Earth. The experience has fostered images of absolutes. Vast landscape, infinitesimal human. Our dire threat to nature, and the delicate polar ecology. Navigating the treacherous Drake Passage, our small boat at the mercy of fifty foot waves. Life, death. The list goes on. It’s humbling. It’s a place where the miniscule and the monumental are mutually epic. People ask me, “Why go to Antarctica?”. There are many reasons. Some of which I have yet to discover. I went to Antarctica because soon it will be a very different place. In the past few years, ice shelves as massive as countries have broken off the continent and are melting into the ocean. Death and Beauty. Antarctica is dying. Such an unlikely and complex place. I had to go, absorb, and tell a story.

Farms That Save Space for Flowers Give Bees a Boost

For over a decade, bee populations have been declining dramatically all over the world. There are likely a number of compounding causes, including pesticide use, viruses and global warming. But another major factor is a loss of habitat and a decline in wildflowers, particularly species preferred by bees.

Wilderness often loses ground to agricultural uses, but a new study from the University of Essex shows that farms can boost wild bee populations by saving room for flowers. The paper was published this week in the scientific journal “Molecular Ecology.”

In 2005, England introduced incentives to farmers to plant more bee-friendly flowers on their land. Similar incentives also exist in the E.U. These agri-environmental schemes have been shown to attract bees a provide them with a good source of food, but the new paper shows for the first time that they are also associated with increased populations.

“A consistent problem in assessing the response of bumblebees to agri-environment schemes has been that it is unclear whether a high observed abundance of bumblebees was merely an attraction of workers to sown forage patches or a genuine population level increase,” write the authors. So, they set out to determine the number of wild bee colonies on the different types of farms, which they say is a good measure of the overall population of bees.

Using this measure, the researchers compared nine farms that have areas planted with flowers for bees with nine farms that don’t have special pollinator-targeted planting over the course of two years. In addition to observing and counting the bees, the researchers collected non-lethal DNA samples to determine how many bee colonies visited the different types of farms.

The researchers found that the colony density of the four most common types of bees was significantly higher at farms with flower-rich patches. They also observed a greater number of individual bees. That’s good news for the crops and wild plants that rely on bees for pollination. It’s also good for the people that eat those crops and enjoy those wildflowers.

However, the researchers did not find that the farm intervention is significantly helping the rarer species of bees that may need support the most, like the large garden bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus). One possible explanation is that these species may have smaller foraging ranges, and the farms with flower patches may be too few and far between to benefit them. It’s possible the rarer bees may need more targeted planting if our goal is to prevent them from disappearing. Since the 1940s, two species of bumblebees have gone extinct in the UK.

Nonetheless, it’s encouraging to see that with the right policy incentives, farms can be a part of the solution to the global bee decline.