Tag Archives: oprah winfrey

Fix the plastic problem

One of the most popular materials in our lives is also filled with dangerous chemicals that leak out into our environment: plastic. This isn’t exactly new information, particularly with celebrities like Oprah Winfrey hailing the horrors of bottled water or more and more cities banning plastic bags from being given away at stores. Even Plato’s Closet in Christiansburg will give an extra discount stamp for declining a plastic bag.

“One of the most popular materials in our lives is also filled with dangerous chemicals that leak out into our environment: plastic.”

The waste produced from plastic that isn’t or can’t be recycled takes up a sizable chunk of landfills, simply buried underground with the rest of our waste and allowed to poison that ground. While chemicals leaking from plastic into our soil and water is its own problem, the chemicals that leak into our food and so forth is also consumed by humans. The Food and Drug Administration says that amount that’s actually consumed by humans is safe; however, this only means that it probably won’t permanently harm or kill us.

Chemicals from plastic can potentially alter hormones, poison wildlife, and so forth.

However, the fact remains that most of our lives are supported by plastic. Your phone, car, grocery containers, and even the IV bag you get at the hospital are all made from plastic. For a relatively new material, it seems to be integral to our world. So how do we stop plastic from killing it?

Scientists have been trying to figure that out for years and a team of researchers from North Dakota State University have made a huge step recently. They’ve invented a new recipe of molecules that allows plastic to degrade in just three hours of direct sunlight. The new solution is based on fructose molecules and light-absorbing molecules called phototriggers that when strung together and cooled create a solid plastic. The best part? According to the team’s recently published paper in Angewandte Chemie, these molecules can then be recovered and re-used to make new plastic, which helps reduce the demand for raw materials.

Of course the whole dissolving in sunlight thing might not be ideal for many of our plastic items, such as cars or patio furniture. For cell phones and other devices which aren’t often in sunlight for prolonged amounts of time and are difficult to recycle, this material could make a huge impact on waste.  While still being tested and modified for commercial production, this new material could be the first leap in a world desperately in need of less plastic.

Famous female philanthropists

We all know Oprah Winfrey is a famous philanthropist for charities and organizations worldwide. She makes a difference in so many ways, but she started out in television. Her fame allowed her the money to make this difference. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are other famous women using their money to give back.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most famous female philanthropists. Photo from Creative Commons.

Helen Mirren is a lovely actress who has starred in films such as “The Queen” and “RED,” but she also stars in numerous philanthropic efforts. She supports many charities, but one organization that is near and dear to her heart is the Oxfam charity. She travelled to Uganda and saw the civil war taking place there and the displaced people of this nation, most of them children. She decided to jump on board with Oxfam, an international human rights organization. It specializes in responding to emergencies, such as the current Japan crisis, and stamps out poverty and injustice.

Helen Mirren plays a big role in the Oxfam charity. Photo from Creative Commons.

Singer, pianist, musician extraordinaire, actress, author and do-gooder Alicia Keys knows a thing or two about using money for the greater good. For a celebrity, Keys is uncommonly selfless and uses her fame, fortune and time pouring into various charity efforts. She is an ambassador for the Keep a Child Alive campaign and has travelled throughout Africa working with people. She also works with Frum Tha Ground Up, an organization to help youth in America.

Alicia Keys, an ambassador for Keep a Child Alive campaign. Photo from Creative Commons.

Sarah Jessica Parker may be known best as Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City,” but she is also known as an ambassador for UNICEF. The star began working with UNICEF in 1997. Many stars have previously worked with UNICEF, including Audrey Hepburn and Nicole Kidman.

Sarah Jessica Parker, an ambassador for UNICEF. Photo from Creative Commons.

Not only are US stars feeling generous, but Canadian stars as well. Celine Dion works with the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and has been with them since 1982. This organization is near and dear to her heart due to having a niece who fell to cystic fibrosis as a teenager.

Celine Dion works with the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Photo from Creative Commons.

Cameron Diaz seems like an unlikely philanthropist, but sure enough, she is. She is involved with making a difference for the planet. Diaz did a show in 2004 for MTV about the Earth and its adventures. She recently shot a documentary about the importance of “green” living and our relationship with the environment. She travelled around the country asking people what worried them most about the environment currently.

Cameron Diaz is trying to get the message out to go green. Photo from Creative Commons.

This list wouldn’t be quite complete without the mention of Angelina Jolie. For all of her fame, she uses that to draw awareness to foreign countries and uses her money to help the people there. She has adopted so many children in hopes of giving them a decent home. She may be as good of a philanthropist as Oprah.

Angelina Jolie likes helping foreign countries. Photo from Creative Commons.

Hopefully this list inspired you to use your means to help out others, even if it seems like a small thing. Everyone on the planet doing small things adds up to enormous things that can change the world for the better for all of us. So follow the stars, and use your means to make a difference in the world around you.