Melisa Acosta is a social entrepreneur who co-founded Japan’s first sustainability-centered online magazine called CICLO.
Melisa describes her reason to start the CICLO magazine with her Japanese husband as a way to fill the gap in understanding between the scientific community and the general public in regards to sustainability issues in Japan. In the video interview, we chat about her academic background, passion for creating positive change in Japan’s communities and plans and projects for the future.
AUDIO Version of the Interview:
Melisa was born in Mexico and grew up in the US, then came to Japan for university and graduated from Tsukuba University with a degree in Molecular Biology. She has long had a passion for international collaboration to promote and work with others on solving environmental issues.
Melisa said her passion to start reaching out to the public to communicate scientific knowledge started when she had the opportunity to collaborate with a fellow environmental scientist friend in Mexico. This friend was working on a project to make “plastics” out of avocado seeds, part of a new field of research termed “Bioplastics”.
The field of Bioplastics is an innovative and exciting field where scientists and companies are looking for alternative solutions to replace the use of fossil fuels in manufacturing plastic. Using agricultural waste to create a kind of plastic from plant-based materials, which could more easily biodegrade, would be an ideal solution to the global plastic-pollution disaster.
Passing on her knowledge of the dangers of plastics to the public is a great resource to those of us looking to avoid putting plastics into our bodies.
As for PCV, PS, and other plastics, I would recommend to just stay away from these in food products. They leak several types of carcinogens used as plasticizers such as styrene, thalates or endocrine-like substances like BPA which can disrupt normal reproductive function, especially in pregnant and young children. I found it really scary that plastic food wrap is made out of PVC (I found some plastic wrap still left in my kitchen and confirmed this by reading the ingredients labeled ポリ塩化ビニリデン or PVC)!
I know sometimes I would heat something wrapped in plastic wrap in my microwave and now thinking back to that time, I just cringe at the fact that I did not know what kind of chemicals were leaching into my food.
So, it’s probably better to put a plate or bowl over any food storing in the fridge or heating up in the microwave and avoid plastic wrap as much as possible. For food storage, another alternative is to use beeswax wraps such as those sold by EcoHachi.
Melisa has a deep knowledge of the science of the plastic pollution issue and as an expert communicator can very effectively interpret the technical aspects to terms you and I can more easily understand.
Melisa has been very active in the proactive social entrepreneurship community in Tokyo led by SOCIAL INNOVATION JAPAN.
Now Melisa has moved to Fukuoka and is just starting to settle into Kyushu’s largest city- I look forward to following all the great things she will get started there!
Mentioned in the video: Avocado Plastic Pellets (Bioplastics) Project – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_NnIHCHIgs
CICLO magazine online: https://ciclo.jp/global/