Plastic is no longer fantastic – IELTS General Reading Passage

You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 28-40, which are based on Reading Passage below.

Write answers to questions in boxes 28-40 on your answer sheet.

GT Reading Sample – “Plastic is no longer fantastic”

Read the text below and answer Questions 28-40.

Questions 28-34
The text has seven paragraphs, A- G.
Choose the correct heading for each paragraph from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number, i- viii, in boxes 28 – 34 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

i  A time when opportunities were limited
ii  The reasons why Ferrando’s product is needed
iii  A no-risk solution
iv  Two inventions and some physical details
v  The contrasting views of different generations
vi  A disturbing experience
vii  The problems with replacing a consumer item
viii  Looking back at why water was bottled

28.  Paragraph  A
29.  Paragraph  B
30.  Paragraph  C
31.  Paragraph  D
32.  Paragraph  E
33.  Paragraph  F
34.  Paragraph  G

Plastic is no longer fantastic

A.   In 2017, Carlos Ferrando, a Spanish engineer-turned-entrepreneur, saw a piece of art in a museum that profoundly affected him. ‘What Lies Under’, a photographic composition by Indonesian digital artist Ferdi Rizkiyanto, shows a child crouching by the edge of the ocean and ‘lifting up’ a wave, to reveal a cluster of assorted plastic waste, from polyethylene bags to water bottles. The artwork, designed to raise public awareness, left Ferrando angry – and fuelled with entrepreneurial ideas.

B.   Ferrando runs a Spanish-based design company, Closca, that produces an ingenious foldable bicycle helmet. But he has now also designed a stylish glass water bottle with a stretchy silicone strap and magnetic closure mechanism that means it can be attached to almost anything, from a bike to a bag to a pushchair handle. The product comes with an app that tells people where they can fill their bottles with water for free.

C.   The intention is to persuade people to stop buying water in plastic bottles, thus saving consumers money and reducing the plastic waste piling up in our oceans. ‘Bottled water is now a $100 billion business, and 81 per cent of the bottles are not recycled . It’s a complete waste – water is only 1.5 per cent of the price of the bottle!’ Ferrando cries. Indeed, environmentalists estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish and that’s mainly down to such bottles. ‘We are trying to create a sense that being environmentally sophisticated is a status symbol,’ he adds. ‘We want people to clip their bottles onto what they are wearing, to show that they are recycling – and to look cool.’

D.   Ferrando’s story is fascinating because it seems like an indicator of something unexpected. Three decades ago, conspicuous consumption – the purchase of luxuries, such as handbags, shoes, cars, etc. on a lavish scale – heightened people’s social status. Indeed, the closing decades of the 20th century were a time when it seemed that anything could be turned into a commodity. Hence the fact that water became a consumer item, sold in plastic bottles, instead of just emerging, for free, from a tap.

E.   Today, though, conspicuous extravagance no longer seems desirable among consumers. Now, recycling is fashionable – as is cycling rather than driving. Plastic water bottles have become so common that they do not command status; instead, what many millennials – young people born in the late 20th century – prefer to post on social media are ‘real’ (refillable) bottles or even the once widespread Thermos bottles. Some teenagers currently think that these stainless-steel vacuum-insulated water bottles that are coming back onto the market are ultra ‘cool’; never mind the fact that they feel oddly out-of-date to anyone over the age of 40 or that teenagers in the 1970s would have avoided ever being seen with one.

F.   It is uncertain whether Clesca will succeed in its goal. Although its foldable bike helmet is available in some outlets in New York, includ ing the Museum of Modern Art, it can be very hard for any design entrepreneur to really take off in the global mass market, though not as hard as it might have been in the past. If an entrepreneur had wanted to fund a smart invention a few decades ago, he or she would have had to either raise a bank loan, borrow money from a family member or use a credit card. Things have moved on slightly since then.

G.   Entrepreneurs are still using the last two options, but some are also tapping into the ever-growing pot of money that is becoming available in the management world for ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) investments. And then there are other options for those who wish to raise money straight away. Ferrando posted details about his water-bottle venture on a large , recognised platform for funding creative projects. He appealed for people to donate $30,000 of seed money – the money he needed to get his project going – and promised to give a bottle to anyone who provided more than $39 in ‘donations’. If he received the funds, he stated that the company would produce bottles in grey and white; if $60,000 was raised, a multicoloured one would be made. Using this approach, none of the donors has a stake in his idea, nor does he have any debt. Instead, it is almost a pre-sale of the product, in a manner that tests demand in advance and creates a potential crowd of enthusiasts. This old-fashioned community funding with a digital twist is supporting a growing array of projects ranging from films to card games, videos, watches and so on. And, at last count, Closca had raised some $52,838 from 803 backers. Maybe, 20 years from now, it will be the plastic bottle that seems peculiarly old-fashioned.

Questions 35-37
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
Write the correct letter in boxes 35-37 on your answer sheet.

35. What does Ferrando say about his glass water bottle?

     A. It matches his bicycle helmet.
     B. It is cheaper than a plastic bottle.
     C. He has designed it to suit all ages.
     D. He wants people to be proud to show it.

36. What does the writer find fascinating about Ferrando’s story?

     A. the youthfulness of his ideas.
     B. the old-fashioned nature of his products.
     C. the choice it is creating for consumers.
     D. the change it is revealing in people’s attitudes.

37. What does the writer suggest about Closca’s bike helmet?

     A. It has both functional and artistic value.
     B. Its main appeal is to older people.
     C. It has had extraordinary success worldwide.
     D. It is more exciting invention than the glass bottle.

Questions 38-40

Complete the summary below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 38-40 on your answer sheet.

Funding a smart invention

Thirty years ago, the methods used by creators to fund their projects involved getting money from the bank or from someone in the 38 ……………….. Banks today are still a useful source of finance, but investments may also be sought from ‘corporate social responsibility’ projects.

In order to get immediate funding, the method Ferrando took was to use a well-known 39 ……………….. to advertise his product and request financial support. People who gave a certain figure or over were offered a free gift. In addition, Ferrando advised his donors that his company would create bottles in two colours, followed by a 40 ……………….. bottle once they had received a more significant amount. In this way Ferrando avoided debt and found out how many people might want his products before manufacturing them.

28. vi
29. iv
30. ii
31. viii
32. v
33. i
34. iii
35. D
36. D
37. A
38. family
39. platform
40. multi(-)coloured/ multi(-)colored