Your Cart is Empty

by Twenty5Degrees Team October 01, 2020 2 min read

By Shinsaku Takakawa


We all know what plastic is, but how is it made? Plastics are made from natural gases, oils, coals, minerals, and plants. Then it is refined into a certain atom such as carbon or hydrogen- depending on the type of plastic- then is made into a polymer. 

Plastic materials and items are infamous for their inability to be broken down. While plastics may be made of natural materials, bacteria and other organisms cannot break down nor digest plastic. What ends up happening is that plastic breaks down until it becomes microplastics. Microplastics are small plastics less than 5 millimeters. They are created when the sun, wind, or waves degrade the plastic. Microplastics cannot be broken down any further. They end up in our bodies, in the environment, and in other organisms. 

Plastic pollution is piling up, and we need a solution.

Mealworms are brown larvae that eventually grow to become darkling beetles. Mealworms can be pests or food to eat. In 2015, Stanford engineers collaborating with Chinese researchersreported that mealworms were capable of eating Styrofoam. 

Microorganisms in a mealworm's stomach breaks down the polystyrene. Mealworms in the research converted the Styrofoam into carbon dioxide, and they excrete droppings. Mealworms fed Styrofoam versus mealworms that ate regular food were equally healthy. The main concern at the time of the publishing is if the mealworms were now toxic to eat.

In December of 2019, Stanford engineers published anupdate on their mealworm project. Mealworms have been discovered to be able to eat the chemical additives to the Styrofoam without it accumulating in their body. However they are unable to biodegrade a flame retardant called hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), the excrement HBCD is still a health hazard and the mealworms may not biodegrade other plastic products as efficiently or at all. 

While discovering mealworms can eat plastic is inspiring, the main takeaway of these reports is that we shouldn’t be having to rely on other animals to clean up our mess. Rather, if we want to fight plastic waste and environmental pollution we must reduce single-use products and toxic additives to these products.


Works Cited:

American Chemistry Council. How Plastics Are Made.

“Eternal Plastics.” Smithsonian Science Education Center, 4 Oct. 2018,

Jordan, Rob. “Mealworms Provide Plastic Solution.” Stanford News, Stanford University, 19 Dec. 2019,

Jordan, Rob. “Plastic-Eating Worms May Offer Solution to Mounting Waste, Stanford Researchers Discover.” Stanford University, Stanford University, 29 Sept. 2015,

This Is Plastics Team. “How Are Plastics Made?” This Is Plastics, 6 Jan. 2020,

Yurasits, Brian. “Water Plastic Bottle on Seashore Photo.” Unsplash, 1 July 2019,

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Blog/Newsletter

Palm Oil - The New Liquid Gold
Palm Oil - The New Liquid Gold

by Twenty5Degrees Team April 07, 2021 6 min read

Crackers, candy, shampoo, ice cream, soap, chocolate, toothpaste, margarine, protein and granola bars, make-up, laundry detergent, and biofuel. What do these everyday household items and products all have in common? Answer: They all contain palm oil. In fact, it is the most widely used vegetable oil on the planet! The oil’s potential is undeniable. However,its large-scale production comes with ecological, agricultural, and economic costs.
Read More
The Paris Climate Agreement - Pt. 2
The Paris Climate Agreement - Pt. 2

by Twenty5Degrees Team March 04, 2021 10 min read

By not complying with the Paris Climate Agreement goals, we are preventing ourselves from achieving a healthier, more prosperous and more sustainable future. Climate change causes sickness and death, damages infrastructure and hurts recreational industries. However, by switching over to a green economy, the U.S. can create job growth, increase GDP, and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, saving lives and money.
Read More
The Paris Climate Agreement - Pt. 1
The Paris Climate Agreement - Pt. 1

by Twenty5Degrees Team February 25, 2021 7 min read

On January 22, 2021, President Biden authorized the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Now that the United States is back at the table, all eyes are on the new administration as to how large of a role the U.S. will play in the fight against climate change.
Read More

Join the Movement