5 ways people are making the world a better place
It’s easy to view the world as a toxic waste dump. I sometimes do. I stay up on current events and try to do my best to be green. I avoid using plastic, I walk or ride my bike almost everywhere I go. I use public transport when I need to get somewhere too far to walk or bike.
No matter what I seem to do, the doomsday scenario haunts me. It’s as if no one else is listening, at least America isn’t, the only country to pull out of the Paris accords. And yes you read that right, not North Korea, not Iran or Syria, the United States. But all is not lost. There are those who are making changes both on small and large scales, for the betterment of all people.
Myopia (short-sightedness) is a treatable condition in places like the US and other industrialized nations. A quick trip to the optometrist can remedy this common condition with either a pair of glasses or lenses. But as common as myopia is in the industrialized world, what about developing nations whose people have to go untreated? Enter one professor Joshua Silver from the University of Oxford, who developed an affordable solution.
Liquid lenses are an adjustable alternative to contacts and glasses. With one quick turn of a dial on the side of the glasses, the liquid amount changes the strength of magnification. This makes it easier for people to see more clearly and accurately. Currently, the cost of one pair for a child is $15 but the goal is to make the glasses more affordable at around $1 a pair.
Remember The Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami? Katrina? The Haiti Earthquake of 2010? What do these three and so many other natural catastrophes have in common? Lack of resources on the ground and an under-prepared disaster relief system that wreaked havoc on the people long after the catastrophes occurred.
Ever year millions of people are left homeless and helpless, living in terrible conditions after disasters have struck. For these such events, graphic designer Michael McDaniel created affordable, temporary living shelters called Reaction Exo. Each pod can hold up to four people and can be stacked like paper coffee cups. These light, portable, stackable shelters can be snapped together to create a suitable, comfortable shelter with multiple rooms.
What’s the cost of indoor smoke inhalation every year you ask? More than 2 million children’s lives, that’s how much. In the developing world, it is the number one cause of death of children under the age of five. Amy Smith at MIT was moved enough by this statistic to find a way to make a safe cooking fuel from materials found easily and cheaply.
Smith developed a device that compresses farm waste into briquettes which are safer than smoke derived from wood. These handy briquettes can be made from leftover hay and corn cobs which would ordinarily be thrown out. Oh, and they last longer and burn hotter too. Farmers only need $2 to get their hands on a press and the briquettes can help earn an extra $500 per month. That’s an improvement to say the least.
Every human deserves access to clean water and yet contaminated drinking-water causes more than half a million diarrheal deaths each year. Furthermore it transmits other diseases such like cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio, leading to 4% of all deaths and 5.7% of all disability or ill health in the world.
The LifeStraw was created to make contaminated water safe to drink. By removing bacteria, parasites, microplastics, and viruses, it’s an ideal solution providing more than 18,000 liters (4,755 gallons) of clean water and it can filter as much as 12 liters (3.4 gallons) per hour.
The Ocean Cleanup
Currently, there are millions of tons of plastic sitting in the oceans in masses of garbage, called gyres. There are five of them. More and more plastic and garbage is added to them every day, mostly draining from rivers. This toxic collection impacts the water itself, the health of marine life, our own health, and the global economy.
Cleaning this mess up would take thousands of years and billions of dollars using traditional methods. Boyan Slat and the Ocean Cleanup however, aim to clean most of it and remove up to 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage patch in just five years at a fraction of the estimated cost.
Small scale, large scale, every individual has the potential to improve the planet and leave it in better shape than it was when we got here. Mother nature is resilient but she is ill and we are feeling the effects of her antibodies hard at work, trying to remove the virus that has infected her. Pence make pounds an old English friend used to say to me and it’s true, everything little thing we do adds up to either improve or worsen the planet.