By NYLU BERNSHTAYN, age 10

PHOTO: AJ Cann/Flickr
PHOTO: AJ Cann/Flickr

Current research by scientists at Stanford University suggests that mealworms (the larval form of the darkling beetle) can survive on a diet of styrofoam and other forms of polystyrene plastics. Less than 10 percent of the 33 million tons of plastics thrown away in the United States every year are recycled. Unrecycled plastic contaminates water and poisons animals. Amazingly, bacteria in the mealworm’s gut breaks down plastic, converting it into carbon dioxide and fecal waste that can be used as soil for crops.