Tedium - Color Is The Enemy 🌈

Could colorful plastics be quietly doing us in?

Hunting for the end of the long tail • May 27, 2024

Color Is The Enemy

If you enjoyed our last issue about plastic, you’ll love this one, which suggests that colorful plastic could be a potential long-term health hazard.

Part of the appeal of plastic, when it first emerged in mainstream society, was the fact that it was colorful. It was not one thing—it could be many things. It was used in toys. It shaped our relationship with music. And vibrancy is still a major factor in its appeal, as highlighted by the fact that the Rabbit R1 came in a hue of orange so bright that reviewers have struggled to properly capture it on camera.

But a new study published in the academic journal Environmental Pollution suggests that maybe the colorful nature of plastics has gone a bit too far. In “Influence of colourants on environmental degradation of plastic litter,” researchers at the University of Leicester and University of Cape Town highlight the findings of a study involving bottle tops made of polypropylene, one of the most common plastics around—and as any Tedium reader who spotted our Sunday issue knows, one of the variants invented by the Phillips Petroleum Company in the 1950s.

Is your iPhone packed to the gills with old photos? The new CleanMyPhone might be your solution. This tool, by the makers of CleanMyMac, helps make it easy to separate an outtake from a keeper—and save a bunch of space in the process. Click here for a free trial, iPhone fans.

The researchers left six colors of plastic bottle caps—red, green, blue, white, black, and silver—in the sun on a Leicester roof for three years. The researchers then found that the more colorful variants dramatically decayed in the sun, while the ones without any coloring looked largely normal. Another element of the research involved grabbing old plastic at South African beaches and analyzing it based on manufacturing dates that go back as far as 45 years. There, too, the darker plastics held up more successfully than the brighter ones.

Well, when you put it that way … (Environmental Pollution)

As the abstract of the research argues:

It appears that carbon and titanium dioxide colorants protect the HDPE polymer from photolytic degradation. While anthraquinone, phthalocyanine and diketopyrrolopyrrole pigments were found to enable UV light to degrade the polymer leading to brittle plastics, promoting the formation of microplastics, it is likely that other pigments that do not strongly absorb in the UV will result in similar degradation.

This appears to be an important finding that could reshape our relationship with plastics long-term. Dr. Sarah Key, the lead researcher of the project, noted that the dramatically different environmental factors behind the two halves of the study is particularly telling.

“It’s amazing that samples left to weather on a rooftop in Leicester and those collected on a windswept beach at the southern tip of the African continent show similar results,” Key told The Guardian. “What the experiments showed is that even in a relatively cool and cloudy environment for only three years, huge differences can be seen in the formation of microplastics.”

Now, microplastics are kind of a big problem these days, and knowing that the colorings we use to create plastics can contribute to them could cause issues down the line might create a strong case to limit our use of colorful plastics, at least in more disposable settings.

Of course, this is complicated, and one big reason for that is the fact that the cultural value of color is really strong. Entire industries are built around color, and removing one of the most valuable tools we have for implementing it in our culture would be hugely problematic and might see pushback from marketers, toy-makers, food producers, and others. Imagine if the only Lego colors for sale were white, black, and gray.

But on the other hand, it’s worth considering the many places microplastics are appearing. Among them: Table salt, prehistoric rocks, modern rocks, clouds, and the male anatomy. It’s almost like we have to decide: Do we like the color red, or properly functional male fertility?

It is yet another sign that we are at the mercy of bad decisions we made decades ago, that we’re now stuck with. But does reversing this trend mean that we have to be stuck with a duller, less colorful world in the process?

Colorful Links

What actually gets posted on the fediverse? A new study from the Newsmast Foundation analyzed the types of information being shared on communities like Mastodon and Misskey, and found a great overall mix that doesn’t necessarily fit the tech-forward reputation the fediverse has. “The Fediverse isn’t all tech. There’s a good spread of posts and users across all our Communities, with no Community dominating,” the report states.

Adam Conover would like you to know that Google screwed up the internet. (↬ Matt Lee)

A shout-out to Don at Novaspirit Tech, a popular homelab-focused YouTube channel, who announced last week that he has stage-four lung cancer and is starting chemo. His story strikes me as brave, and his honesty in the face of that challenging diagnosis admirable.


Find this one an interesting read? Share it with a pal!

And if you need to clean out your old pics, give CleanMyPhone a spin.

Share this post:

follow on Twitter | privacy policy | advertise with us

Copyright © 2015-2024 Tedium, all rights reserved.

Disclosure: From time to time, we may use affiliate links in our content—but only when it makes sense. Promise.

unsubscribe from this list | view email in browser | sent with Email Octopus

Older messages

Losing Sight Of Creators 🔎

Monday, June 3, 2024

The problem with ad-blocking for creators. Here's a version for your browser. Hunting for the end of the long tail • May 31, 2024 Losing Sight Of Creators Instead of building ways to block ads, we

The Bargain Bin Evolves

Monday, June 3, 2024

The weirdness of the bin store. Here's a version for your browser. Hunting for the end of the long tail • June 01, 2024 Today in Tedium: If you want to know whether a society is truly advanced,

The AI Laptops’ Secret Feature 💻

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Robust Linux support might make the AI laptops worth buying. Here's a version for your browser. Hunting for the end of the long tail • May 22, 2024 The AI Laptops' Secret Feature Ignore the AI

Defeating Mouse Lint 🖱️

Sunday, May 19, 2024

How optical mice scrolled past rubber balls. Here's a version for your browser. Hunting for the end of the long tail • May 19, 2024 Hey all, sorry this is running a little late. Last week's odd

Does One Line Fix Google? 🔎

Friday, May 17, 2024

Google's new barebones “Web” view is worth using. Here's a version for your browser. Hunting for the end of the long tail • May 17, 2024 Does One Line Fix Google? Forget AI. Google just created

You Might Also Like

This Week's Daily Tip Roundup

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Missed some of this week's tips? No problem. We've compiled all of them here in one convenient place for you to enjoy. Happy learning! iPhoneLife Logo View In Browser Your Tip of the Day is

Beyond OpenAI: Apple’s On-Device AI Strategy

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Plus a new super coder model, Meta's new AI releases, DeepMind's video-to-audio models and much more. ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏

Kotlin Weekly #412

Sunday, June 23, 2024

ISSUE #412 23rd of June 2024 Announcements Libraries Grants Program Kotlin Foundation has an open Grants Program for open-source developers till the 25th of June! Make sure you apply before.

Online passport renewal/No-slip hangers/Explain that Stuff

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Recomendo - issue #416 ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏ ͏

🛠️ It's Easy to Mod PC Games — What to Know About Cellular Data Throttling

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Also: Best Short Throw Projectors of 2024, and More! How-To Geek Logo June 22, 2024 📩 Get expert reviews, the hottest deals, how-to's, and more delivered directly to your inbox by subscribing to

Daily Coding Problem: Problem #1474 [Easy]

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Daily Coding Problem Good morning! Here's your coding interview problem for today. This problem was asked by Facebook. Boggle is a game played on a 4 x 4 grid of letters. The goal is to find as

Weekend Reading — Occam's shaving kit

Saturday, June 22, 2024

This week we work around our ErrorBoundary, ignore our \\TODO, write in Sans Bullshit Sans, pay $500/hour to dress the same as always, count succors borne every minute, and name a dinosaur after Loki.

Infographic | The Next Characters to Enter the Public Domain 🎟️

Saturday, June 22, 2024

From Mickey to Superman, this infographic shows which popular characters will be entering the public domain over the next 15 years. View Online | Subscribe Presented by: EnergyX's groundbreaking

Web3 hiring culture. What can we improve?

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Top Tech Content sent at Noon! Meet the device ushering in a new era of hearing clarity Read this email in your browser How are you, @newsletterest1? 🪐 What's happening in tech today, June 22, 2024

Web3 hiring culture. What can we improve?

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Top Tech Content sent at Noon! Meet the device ushering in a new era of hearing clarity Read this email in your browser How are you, @newsletterest1? 🪐 What's happening in tech today, June 22, 2024