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Ari Jonsson's biodegradable water bottle in the throes of decomposition. You won't see a plastic bottle doing this. Image:

Ari Jonsson’s biodegradable water bottle in the throes of decomposition. You won’t see a plastic bottle doing this. Image:

The Inertia

Back in March, a design student named Ari Jonsson entered in a design festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. He brought something with him that has the potential to change the world. It’s very simple: a bottle of water. But not just any bottle of water… Jonsson’s design holds its shape while there’s water in it. When it’s empty, it begins to decompose.

It’s no secret that we’re royally screwing up the planet. In our lust for convenience, we’ve created a filthy, poisonous monster. Despite what you might have heard, the monster, if left unchecked, will kill us all, and not in a figurative sense. According to Ecowatch, in the last decade humans have created more plastic than in the entire last century. When Leo Hendrik Baekeland patched together the first substance with no naturally occurring molecules back in the early 1900s, he had no idea that he was giving birth to something that would ultimately prove to be one of the biggest environmental problems of all time. Now, over a century later, humans on average throw away more than half of all the plastic we use. Globally, we use 500 billion plastic bags every year, and every single piece of that plastic takes anywhere from 400 to 1000 years to decompose. Of all the trash on the surface of the ocean, some 90% of it is composed of plastic. And to really blow your mind, think about this: except for the small percentage of plastic that’s been burned, every single piece of plastic ever made is still floating around somewhere. That drinking straw you used yesterday for less than a minute? That’ll be around for the next half-century. It’s clear that, environmentally, we’re totally and completely blowing it. Everyone knows it, but few are doing anything to fix it.

Ari Jonsson studies product design at the Icelandic Academy of Arts. After realizing just how much plastic we use, he decided that he’d take the initiative to offer a solution. “I read that 50 percent of plastic is used once and then thrown away,” he said. “I feel there is an urgent need to find ways to replace some of the unreal amount of plastic we make.” His solution comes from a source that is proving itself to be more and more useful: algae.

Jonsson’s water bottle can be formed by simply adding water and heat, then placing the jelly that forms into a freezable mold. When the bottle is filled, it keeps its shape. Then, when you’re done drinking whatever it is you’re drinking, the bottle begins to decompose. And, much like the delicious soup-in-a-bread-bowl, you can even eat the bottle.

Of course, the bottle is still in the early stages of development, and there are a few issues. The most obvious problem, for a materialistic consumer society, is how it looks. But if nothing else, Jonsson’s design is a starting point for a solution to a very real, very big problem.

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