‘See what is happening to our planet’

07-06-2017, 14:48

Plastic pollution. Photo: Garrett Coakly, creative commons

The Radboud students who went to Canada to compete in the World's Challenge Challenge, are back in Nijmegen. Their solution for plastic pollution won second prize, 15.000 Canadian dollars. Vox spoke to Nila Patty, one of the three, about this ambitious competition.

Nila Patty, Medical Biology student, simply had to do something about the plastic pollution problem. Together with fellow students Raoul Luijten and Stef op de Kamp she came up with The Icepack Solution. They pitched the idea last week in Canada, during the World’s Challenge Challenge, an environmental competition for students from all over the world. With their second prize, the group members won 5000 Canadian dollars (3300) each, to develop their idea further.

What does your solution mean, exactly?
‘Plastic is a huge problem for the environment. Fishermen use plastic bags to transport ice to keep their fish cold. With the ice pack we want to develop, they won’t need those bags anymore, so they wont end up in the sea. We also want to build a machine to recycle plastic; that will help with local employment opportunities. We also want to teach local people about sustainable development.’

Why would a poor fisherman somewhere in the world want to switch to a sustainable option from the Netherlands?
‘By using our icepack, the fish will stay fresh longer, so they can sell more of it. That is good for the economy. With good education, we hope to convince the community to eventually take care of the land and sea in a sustainable way.’

Did you expect to do so well in the competition?
‘Well, the other ideas were also very good. This competition is more like a stimulus to cooperate with other students. We all hope to improve the environment together. And individually, we also benefit from it, because the other ideas create awareness of what is happening with the earth.’

A competition in Canada sounds a bit abstract for people; how can you involve others in sustainability awareness?
‘People always say: the young generation holds the future. We have the chance to develop unique and creative ideas that the older generation did not have yet. I want to tell other people, young and old, to look around them. Step out of the bubble you live in. See what is happening to our planet. Only the people who are aware of pollution, really want to do something about it. Think about your future children, or maybe your little brother. Do you want them to inherit the world in this state? The earth does not need us, we need the earth. If we do not do something, all this will lead to the destruction of our planet.’

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