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The Gap Year Blog

Frontier Environment News of the Week 11/09/18

11 Sep 2018 16:10 PM

Photo Credit: Flickr | Vaidehi Shah

Edited with Permission by Frontier

Consumers are more concerned about food packaging than price

Recent research has found that consumers are more concerned about the amount of plastic food packaging on products than how much they cost. 62% of the 2000 participants felt that reducing plastic packaging and using recycled materials were important. 

When interviewed by the Guardian, ThoughtWorks, who were behind the research, suggest that this change in consumer thinking will mean retailers will have to adapt or perish – potentially losing consumers to other more environmentally conscious companies. It is thought that much of the awareness around plastic packaging has arisen due to the increasing media coverage about ocean plastic pollution.

It also appears that consumers are increasingly wary of where their food is sourced and how it is produced. The days of single-use plastic wrappers and containers may be limited.

Photo Credit: The Guardian DutchScenery/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The urban wind turbine 

The O-Wind turbine not only captures urban wind, it has captured the imagination of many people – winning the UK National Dyson Award 2018. 

The 25cm vented sphere hopes to transform energy production in urban areas. Its unique design captures wind travelling in both horizontal and vertical directions. This is advantageous compared to traditional wind turbines which only capture wind travelling in one direction. 

Wind enters the sphere through the vents causing it to spin. This turns gears which power an electrical generator, producing electricity which can either be used directly or supplied back to the national grid.

The two student inventors were inspired by the design of NASA’s Mars Tumbleweed Rover and they hope that it will be attached to high rise buildings and balconies in cities across the world. 

This invention seems like one to look out for as it will potentially enter production in the next five years.  

Cleaning up the Pacific

Last week, a huge tube was towed into the Pacific Ocean with one goal, clean up plastic. The 600m U-shaped tube was the brainchild of Boyan Slat who came up with the idea to try and rid the world’s oceans of plastic. 

The tube will float on the water with an attached sheet descending 3m below the surface, aiming to trap any floating plastic floating. The design was first released in the eastern Pacific Ocean at The Great Garbage Patch, an oceanic whirlpool which traps rubbish. The project's initial aim is to remove all waste in the patch by 2040. 

Every six weeks ships will be deployed to collect the trapped waste which will then be brought back to shore, recycled and resold as new items. 

Although an impressive idea, many are concerned that it will not be effective. When interviewed by the BBC, Sue Kinsey of the Marine Conservation Society said:

“The major problem is those creatures that passively float in the ocean that can't actually move out of the way - once they're in this array, they're going to be trapped there unable to move."

Others have also criticised the plan as not dealing with the source of the problem - excessive plastic production. 

Those involved in the project hope that 60 more tubes will be produced and deployed globally in the future. This however hinges on the success of the current deployment.

Photo Credit: BBC | The Ocean Cleanup

Quick Fire News


  • Scientists report that the large parts of the countryside are no longer suitable for hedgehogs, with only 20% of 261 surveyed sites showing their presence. Habitat destruction from intensifying agriculture and competition with badgers for food could be behind the figures. 


  • Turning the Sahara green – Installing wind turbines and solar panels in the famous desert could alter its rainfall patterns, potentially helping local people produce green energy and food.


  • Cumbria is now home to the world’s largest offshore windfarm. The Walney Extension covers an area of 145 square kilometres and holds 87 turbines which are capable of supplying electricity to 600,000 homes. 


  • Commercial whaling could be coming back. Japanese representatives pushed for a reversal of the worldwide 30 year commercial whaling ban at the recent meeting of the International Whaling Committee. The committee is expected to release its verdict later this week. 

By Ignatius-Roy Hillcoat-Nalletamby - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs terrestrial & marine conservation, community, teaching and adventure projects in over 50 countries - join us and explore the world!