edible water podsThe idea of people going green or living greener lives is something that you can find almost anywhere you look. On practically any soda bottle or fast food container, you’ll see a triangle symbol with the reminder to please recycle. Local dumps have signs pointing out where you can separate your plastics to easily recycle them. People are pushing beyond typical advertisements like billboards and commercials to encourage everyone to think about the earth and reuse what can be recycled.

One of the major problems you’ll hear most about when it comes to recycling is what happens with plastic bottles after they’re used. They typically have the recycle triangle and a reminder on whatever label they have, but because they’re used on the go, plastic bottles end up in trash cans, on the side of the road and even in the ocean. Plastic isn’t a substance that breaks down easily on its own, so the bottles challenge innovators every year to find a way to solve the problem of plastic bottle pollution.

Read on to find out what a small, London-based startup is doing to minimize the effects of plastic bottles that aren’t recycled. There’s always another step forward that everyone can take, and what they’ve created could be the next big thing for the future of going green.

Damage Caused by Plastic Water Bottles

To fully understand how water pods are helping, you have to get an idea of where the planet stands right now. Plastic is cheap to make, which is why it’s used for bottling drinks and other liquids, but that doesn’t mean it’s as good for the environment as it is for the manufacturer. Every plastic bottle takes a thousand years to break down, which leads to massive piles of waste that go nowhere fast.

Just how massive are the piles of plastic bottle waste? Enough plastic materials are thrown out each year to circle the earth four times. Now picture 91 percent of it in landfills. Every day, more and more plastic is made and distributed because companies can make a major profit off of it. By putting the recycling reminder on, they appear to be doing what they can for the earth, but what would be better is if they looked to the future like the London-based Skipping Rocks Lab.

How Water Pods Can Help

Back in 2013, the team at Skipping Rocks Lab came up with the idea of an edible water pod that could one day overtake the plastic bottle industry. They began to work on a prototype, using all-natural materials taken from seaweed and other plants to make a clear membrane thick enough to hold water but thin enough to easily bite through.

Now, they have Ooho, a packaging cheaper than plastic that can hold water, spirits, soda and even cosmetics and naturally breaks down in four to six weeks. The product is so innovative that it’s won a number of awards, such as the 2014 Lexus Design Award, the 2015 SEA Award and the 2016 UK Energy Globe Award. Their goal is to greatly reduce the amount of plastic produced and discarded into the world, which currently adds up to billions of pounds of plastic in the ocean alone.

Why Everyone Should Help the Earth

If the earth continues to be hurt by pollution, it won’t be able to continue supporting human life as it currently does. The planet provides oxygen, a sustainable environment and anything humans could need to find food, shelter and water.

To make a profit and provide products for an ever-growing number of consumers, industries have found ways to use chemicals and other processes to manipulate earth’s resources and make more of what’s available. A report published by the UN Environment Programme’s International Resource Panel found that human consumption of natural resources has grown by over 48 billion tons in the last 40 years, topping out at 70 billion tons.

Not everything can be reproduced in a lab, and what the earth provides is invaluable to helping the people around us. If the water resources continue to be polluted with plastics, there won’t be enough clean water left for our use.

Without clean water, the earth wouldn’t be able to survive. It hydrates and replenishes, keeps body temperatures regulated and grows all plants from seeds to maturity. It powers what humans need through hydroelectricity, which helps curb the need for power sources that pollute the planet, like coal. Nowadays, water technology is even helping disabled individuals learn to walk again. People can come up with inventions to purify water, but if it’s constantly polluted, the ability to clean the water will be overtaken by how quickly it gets polluted again.

How Can We Make the Right Changes?

Plastics play a big part in what’s currently hurting the earth’s environment. There’s the well-known Great Pacific Garbage Patch that’s up to nine feet deep and contains 7 million pounds of garbage. As plastics float around in waters like this, they kill about 1 million seabirds and over 100,000 marine animals each year.

Plastic pollution isn’t only in the ocean either. In spots like Lake Erie, 1.7 million plastic particles were found per square mile. And even if you don’t live near Lake Erie or the ocean, you’re still at risk for ingesting plastic chemicals. Starting from the age of six, 93 percent of Americans test positive for BPA, a chemical commonly found in plastic products like bottles and Tupperware.

Groundbreaking products like Ooho are important — we need to keep heading in this direction and bringing awareness to these issues. People should know what plastic is doing to the earth and that there’s more they can do to help than recycling a soda can every once in a while (which is great too — but won’t be enough in the long-run, unfortunately). Teams of researchers and scientists are finding ways to change how people interact with the planet, down to what materials are used to create everyday products.

Anything that’s friendly to the earth and the people who use the product is worth trying. There’s only one earth, and everyone should do their part to take care of it.