The past 15th of september has different meanings to all of us. To some, it might be the day your annoying little sibling finally left for school or the international couch-potato day which happens to be everyday.
For some people, the date was a little more significant -insert sarcastic tone here-. After a long polluted and blue summer, a worldwide sensation came to life! Awareness rose from the ashes and the biggest cleaning campaign in history was finally planned. The idea aims mainly towards collecting solid litter together as fellow human beings.
The day ironically resembles that infamous sunday at home when the decision of a thorough cleanup arises and everything and everyone enters panic mode!
Panic mode arrived in Tunisia with a fancy pantsy name « Zebletna »! This sexy name brought together many litter hoarders from all over the country! Some were merely groups of 4 to 5 samaritans as advised by the event but many were non-profits that decided to direct their manpower towards a pressing issue! NGOs like ABAST, zabaltouna (300 km) and many others were first in line to engage people in something unprecedented.
Where do the authorities stand in all of this? The event was in fact in collaboration with local city halls. They provided some logistics like cleanup utensils and trucks.
Now the big question: what’s next ?
The collected litter was in fact seperated and recycled by recycling organizations. Here are some fun numbers for you to crunch!
What was once 8 tons of plastic and 13 tons of glass turned into school supplies for all of the pupils of « Aouled Khemisa » primary school in Ain Drahem.
Ever heard of the saying « One man’s junk, another man’s treasure »? This is a perfect depiction!
Gold was milked out of recycling that junk and changed the lives of many children in need! What we lack is awareness and a huge sense of empathy. If the whole concept was popularized, imagine what impact it would’ve had on the lives of thousands of people.
But, change is happening in small magnitutes . The impact of a tiny campaign changed the world in the eyes of the children of « Aouled Khemisa » because « Zebletna » was indeed their treasure !
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Solving Oceanic Plastic pollution with bacteria.
It’s common knowledge that our survival on earth is threatened by a number of self-caused problems: whether it’s global warming, antibiotic-resistant bacteria or the threat of a third world war, things in short look bleak.
However, there is some hope in establishing a solution to the problem of pollution, more precisely plastic pollution, due to the up and coming duo Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao. These 21-year-old undergraduate students have developed a prototype of a bacteria that breaks down polystyrene, a versatile form of plastic that’s used in manufacturing water bottles and yogurt containers, into CO2 and water, a project they first started working on in highschool.
The current version of the process includes using solvents to dissolve the plastic, then enzymes catalyze depolymerization of its base chemicals, which are then consumed and transformed by the bacteria. Wang and Yao envisage sending moving clean-up station to the locations of the plastic, where workers then can load the wasted and wait for it to degrade.
The duo has founded a company called BioCollection in an aim to capitalize on their idea and reach a widespread distribution. The company is targeting the removal of 9 grams of plastic per liter of bacteria and to sell 150 000 liter containers of the bacteria for $20000. While whether the company will prove to be the next Wall Street darling remains to be seen, there are signs of hope as the technology is much easier to implement than the widespread use of biodegradable plastics, version of which existed since the late 1980s and early 1990s, and more effective than similar products such as plastic consuming mealworms. What’s even more promising is that the duo won a total of 5 prestigious Wharton awards from the University of Pennsylvania, hosted their own TED talk, and raised $400 000, all under the age of 21.
BioCollection is not the next Silicon Valley wonder that teenagers aspire to copy one day, it is a company that can prove life-saving in the literal sense, and is the type of company that we ought to seek from the entrepreneurial world.
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