5 Everyday Objects That Are Secretly Saving The World
The surface of the Earth is 70% water, 28% land, and 2% an ever-growing mountain of useless junk that we bought because it looked cool, then threw away. Ironically, some of that junk is currently helping us save the planet in awesome and unexpected ways. Here are a few everyday items that science is turning into unlikely saviors.
Bras Are Saving Injured Turtles
Turtles' shells get cracked in a variety of ways, from run-ins with cars to lawn mowers to mutated punk rocker warthogs and rhinos. This is absolutely life-threatening for them, so wildlife rescue groups do their best to patch them up. Good ol' glue and tape are usually the first line of treatment, but larger cracks can be difficult to repair efficiently ... unless you happen to have a bunch of old bras laying around.
You see, in a turn of events worthy of some ridiculous '90s adventure game, it seems that glued bra clasps do a pretty good job of wiring cracked turtle shell pieces together so they can heal. Yes, people's worn-out double Ds are doing double duty as turtle bandages. This also ensures this crack can never be reopened by 98% of horny teenagers.
After the shell has healed, caretakers sand down the leftover adhesive and remove the wire and bra clasps -- a step the turtles probably refer to as "second base." The almost-good-as-new turtles are then returned to the wild, blissfully ignorant of the massive debt they owe to some old underwear. (Has this been Victoria's secret all along?)
The idea was popularized when a wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary in rural Iowa asked the internet for old bra clasps to mend some broken turtles, and the post went viral. In fact, they were soon drowning in bras (even more than wildlife rehab workers normally are, we mean), and had to ask people to stop sending them. Other animal rescue centers around America and the world began doing the same thing, with equally overwhelming results. If there's one thing people like more than helping animals, that's helping animals while getting rid of their junk.
Old Smartphones Help Protect Rainforests
Most people dispose of their old smartphone by giving it to a parent who has no idea how to use it or a toddler who could probably use it to hack NORAD. But some phones find a higher calling after their days of sexting and toilet-reading comedy websites. (That's right, Brad. We know.) Instead of being trashed or put in a drawer until the end of time, they embark on a new and noble mission: saving rainforests from illegal logging.
After stumbling upon a rogue logger with a chainsaw while hiking in a remote area of Indonesia, San Francisco engineer Topher White had an idea. And no, it wasn't "Maybe I'll just go to the park next time." Determined to create some sort of device that could detect loggers and notify authorities of their location, White grabbed some old cellphones and McGyvered them into solar-powered devices capable of detecting the sound of chainsaws. After only two days of testing, his prototype had caught a bunch of men acting like tools with their tools.
So what sort of cutting-edge scientific investigations involve mayonnaise? Basically, they're studying what happens "when a light material, like air, tries to push against a denser material, like metal." Apparently, if you do a lot of work with nuclear fusion, this is both fascinating and groundbreaking. The important thing to know is that somewhere out there, a lucky jar of mayonnaise got to live its best life as part of a nuclear experiment instead of ending up decorating your toilet.
Table Salt Is Making Skin Grafts Affordable For Acid Victims
Acid attacks are a serious problem in Pakistan, especially in poor remote areas, and triple-especially with women. As if the terrible disfigurement part wasn't bad enough, those who survive such attacks also face a tremendous risk of infection, psychological trauma, and isolation. Skin grafts cost upwards of $900 per square inch, which is like adding salt to an already painful wound. Wait, no, it's the other way around. Adding salt is what's giving these women hope.
A doctor at Jinnah Burn & Reconstructive Surgery Center in Lahore has successfully cultivated artificial graft skin using salt. Instead of the absurdly expensive enzyme normally used, the center is growing the skin with something that's both readily available and very cheap (since they're using regular table salt, not the fancy kind they sell at Whole Foods). How much cheaper? Skin grafts cultivated with table salt cost about $5 per square inch. Please take a step back and consider how insane the phrase "You can buy a square inch of salt-based skin for less than a Big Mac combo meal" sounds. It's probably more nutritious, too.
So far, 13 patients have received the grafts, and none have yet suffered complications, infections, or high blood pressure. And while "normal" skin grafts are difficult to transport and can only be stored for a short period of time, the salt grafts can be safely stored for up to two years. As a bonus, the tears produced by the executives at the drug company that makes the expensive enzyme guarantee that we won't run out of salt for the foreseeable future.
For more, check out 6 Horrifying Videos That Prove Nature Is Trying To Kill Us:
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