Author: Honorata Pereira
Age of students: 15th – 16th
Date of activities: February – beginning of March 2020
This project aimed to make students aware of the amount of (micro) plastics present in essential goods of common use. Thus, the students investigated the microplastics present in personal hygiene products, in their clothes, in the washing waters of their clothes and in the waters of the beach. They also assessed the amount of waste they produce at home, as well as the main waste from local industries. Finally, students were invited to present solutions to minimize the impact of waste and plastic on the environment.
We started by using the “Building a new environmental Future” feature. Thus, students watched a short clip about bioeconomy, students received different objects that they have to categorize according to them being bio-based or non-bio-based. In the second part, we used the Scientix resource “Growing plastic and new life for plastic” and the students s analysed pictures about plastic pollution, they researched the microplastics existing in their personal hygiene products, as well as in the washing waters of their clothes. A group of students investigated microplastics in sea waters, taking samples from three different locations, in the north, centre and south of the country. In this context, we also analysed the amount of waste that each family produces, as well as visiting the main industries in our locality, a dairy and an oil processing industry, to identify the main waste that each industry produces.
In this way, students identified the problems associated with plastic and the garbage and waste we produce.
Thus, the third part of the project involved rethinking the ways to recycle plastic and finding solutions to put the waste we produce in the value chain. In this way, the students collected the HDPE plastic melted at low temperatures and moulded it to make the models. With the residues of the cheese shops, whey, and with the oil the students created a line of sustainable cosmetics, with essential oils extracted from fruit peels. With food residues, namely washing water from potatoes, eggshells, dried fruit skins, they produced biopolymers that they shaped in the form of legos. Still with the water for washing potatoes and rice, collected in the school cafeteria and at the students’ homes, they produced bioplastics and tested their biodegradability. At this moment, one of the students took the initiative to find a solution to recover the washing waters of parts of the automotive industry. So, with the recovered HDPE, he is building a model for the automotive industry and developing banana peel and eggshell filters to adsorb metal ions, such as Nickel and Chromium. For the development of this project, we have the support of the School of Technology and Management of Oliveira do Hospital and BLC3 – Centre for Research and Technological Innovation.
Our work can be found here.
To be continued…
We continue to work and we are developing cotton facial masks, polyfunctionalized with lanolin extracted from sheep’s wool, which has antibacterial properties and provides resistance to cotton fibres, preventing them from being damaged. In addition, lanolin allows the mask to dry quickly when it is washed.
Thus, on June 5, we will hold an online event “DesignScience: The Era of Sustainable Industries Mission 20-30” in which we will invite the fashion, furniture, agri-food industries to reflect on the way they are adapted to the new challenges of the sustainability era and what is the profile of employees needed, in this context.