Heroes

A vending machine. That eats trash. And makes phone cases. Invented by teens.

A group of students came up with this amazing prototype. Imagine the possibilities.

Recycling should be as simple as buying a can of soda at a vending machine, right?

It should be easy to throw your recyclable items into a machine, knowing you're helping the environment with little to no effort at all.


Image via MyProAction/Facebook, used with permission.

These students in Italy thought so, too.

What started as a school project for five high school students in a small town in Sicily has now turned into an award-winning prototype.

Marco Tomasello, Daniele Caputo, Vincenzo Virruso, Vittorio Maggiore, Toni Taormina, and their teacher, Daniela Russo, came up with a revolutionary recycling concept called MyProGeneration as a way to encourage other youth to step up their conservation game.

They tell Upworthy they had no idea their project would become reality, gaining worldwide interest and earning them the AXA Italia Social Impact Award.


So what was their winning design exactly? It's a vending machine that collects plastic bottles and turns them into phone cases.

It works by grinding any plastic recyclables deposited into the vending machine's container bin into little plastic pellets, which are melted into a plastic thread used to create 3D-printed phone cases.

GIF from Junior Achievement Italia/YouTube.

Basically, it turns this:

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Into these:

Image by MyProAction/Facebook, used with permission.

They've already got four prototype machines in action and are looking for a distribution partner to get them mass-produced.

Image by MyProAction/Facebook, used with permission.

If a group of students can make recycling this fun and easy to do, can you imagine what else we can come up with?

Photo from Dole
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As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

When people think of the Deep South, especially in states like Mississippi, most people don't imagine a diverse and accepting way of life. People always look at me as if I've suddenly sprouted a unicorn horn when I reminisce on my time living in Biloxi and the eclectic people I've met there, many of whom I call friends. I often find myself explaining that there are two distinct Mississippis—the closer you get to the water, the more liberal it gets. If you were to look at an election map, you'd see that the coast is pretty deeply purple while the rest of the state is fire engine red.

It's also important to note that in a way, I remember my time in Biloxi from a place of privilege that some of my friends do not possess. It may be strange to think of privilege when it comes from a Black woman in an interracial marriage, but being cisgendered is a privilege that I am afforded through no doing of my own. I became acutely aware of this privilege when my friend who happens to be a transgender man announced that he was expecting a child with his partner. I immediately felt a duty to protect, which in a perfect world would not have been my first reaction.

It was in that moment that I realized that I was viewing the world through my lens as a cisgendered woman who is outwardly in a heteronormative relationship. I have discovered that through writing, you can change the narrative people perceive, so I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with my friend—not only to check in with his feelings, but to aid in dissolving the "otherness" that people place upon transgender people.

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Photo from Dole
True

As you sit down to eat your breakfast in the morning or grab an afternoon snack, take a minute to consider your food, how it was made, and how it got to your plate.

The fruit on your plate were grown and picked on farms, then processed, packaged and sent to the grocery store where you bought them.

Sounds simple, right?

The truth is, that process is anything but simple and at every step in the journey to your plate, harm can be caused to the people who grow it, the communities that need it, and the planet we all call home.

For example, thousands of kids live in food deserts and areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Around the world, one in three children suffer from some form of malnutrition, and yet, up to 40% of food in the United States is never eaten.

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Melanie Cholish/Facebook

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

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