It’s not easy being green. Sure, we recycle, and we try to remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store, but the Great Pacific Garbage patch is double the size of Texas. That’s a major problem that we don’t quite know how to solve yet. But there is always hope. Here are five stories of eco-innovators all over the planet doing their best to help planet Earth. We hope they inspire you as they did us.
- Bottles for Bus Rides in Surabaya.
Indonesia is one of the world’s largest contributors of ocean plastic. The island nation boasts some of the world’s most beautiful and polluted beaches. Thanks to a crowdsourcing effort by locals in Surabaya though, a person can now trade 5 plastic bottles or 10 plastic cups for a 2-hour bus ride. This may not seem like much but one bus can collect up to 550 pounds of plastic waster per month! Surabaya aims to be plastic-free by the end of 2020.
Update 2020: Bali has gone plastic-free!
- Trash to Electricity in Ethiopia
The Ethiopian government commissioned Africa’s first plant to convert trash to electricity. The site incinerates 1,400 tons of waste every day, transforming it into enough electricity for 3 million people. Amazingly, it does this while staying within the European emissions standard. The plant didn’t stop there either. The ash from the facility is turned into bricks for local construction and the plant is also recovering 30 million liters of water from the waste as well!
- No more chlorine in Edmonton
Edmonton, a city in Canada, opened the country’s very first all-natural swimming pool. Historically, swimming pools are treated with chemicals that may pose risks to the environment and potentially to people. Not to mention the energy and water costs. Edmonton’s solution? The Borden Natural Swimming Pool. The pool uses plankton and aquatic plants to help remove contaminants from the water naturally. Swimmers will have to be careful that their sunscreen is phosphate-free/reef safe to avoid harming the natural environment but these changes mean the pool will stay just as clean while dramatically increasing energy efficiency and decreasing chemical usage. We’d call that a win.
- Plastic Roads in Ghana
Over in Ghana, an industrial processing firm called Neplast is transforming trash into roads, garbage bags specifically. Ghana recently banned plastic bags as the majority wind up in landfills instead of being recycled. Neplast collaborated with the government of Ghana to develop a method of turning waste plastics and sand into bricks for road building. These bricks are as durable as asphalt and are anticipated to last 500 years!
- Edible Seaweed Packaging in Indonesia
In Indonesia, a company called Evoware has started producing food packaging and dinnerware made from seaweed. They are edible, biodegradable, and sustainable. Evoware has set out to solve two social issues Indonesia is facing: the prevalence of plastic waste and the plight of the seaweed farmer. Let’s raise a biodegradable seaweed cup to that!
All of these stories may seem aspirational. But they are the results of a thousand small steps taken by ordinary people. The world is full of opportunities to do good and help those around us (like buying from environmentally responsible brands who give back to those in need). We encourage you to keep your eyes open for eco-innovators, and if you find a story that inspires you, share it!