Once a completely natural product, much of today’s plastic is man-made and largely dependent upon fossil fuels. From polymers to nurdles, learn how plastic is created and what we can do to slow the lasting repercussions this material will have on both our planet and our lives.

This Plastics 101 video from National Geographic summarizes the rise of plastic use since the 1950s, and emphasizes the harmful effects of single-use plastics on the environment. It also touches on more recent discoveries, including two Stanford studies that have shown how mealworms, darkling beetle larvae, can eat 34-39 milligrams of styrofoam per day and how Galleria mellonella moth caterpillars, wax worms, can chemically break down polyethylene plastic when they eat it.

Related reading: National Geographic’s Plastic or Planet?

Then explore plastic alternatives in these videos about edible cutlery and compostable biomaterials made from fungi.

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