Questions for “Here’s how to make flip-flops biodegradable”

a photo of colorful flip flops on a bright yellow background

These flip-flops are not biodegradable. But experimental ones made with a algae-based recipe are. And they would offer a host of environmental benefits.

Mykola Sosiukin/iStock/Getty Images Plus

To accompany “Here’s how to make flip-flops biodegradable


Before Reading:

1. What do scientists mean when they say a something is “biodegradable?” 

2. What is composting and why is it good for the environment?   

During Reading:

1. What makes up the plastic core of most flip-flops?

2. Where do the ingredients in polyurethane come from?

3.  What are polyols and what role does algae play in their production?

4.  What role do microbes play in the process of biodegradation?

5.  What are ester groups?    

6.  What happens to ester bonds when they come in contact with groups of microbes in soil and compost? 

7.  Why does Stephanie Liffland of the University of Minnesota want to know whether seawater will breakdown the new algae-based foam?

After Reading:

1.  What might be some other uses for algae-based plastic? Explain your answer.

2.  Do you think it is beneficial for scientists to continue to find new ways of making certain products biodegradable? Why or why not? Explain your answer.