A young Indian invents ecological bricks
Posted on September 24, 2020
Binish Desai started working on an eco-friendly brick made from recycling and waste when he was 11 years old. He said to himself that one day he would build the least expensive house in the world for these people, build it with bricks made of chewing gum and waste paper! How? Keep reading…
His big inspiration was a cartoon called Captain Planet, an animated television series from the 1990s about an environmentalist with superpowers. The series show's chorus said: "Captain Planet, he's our hero / He's going to cut pollution to zero!"
He created his first own laboratory in the corner of his living room on a television cabinet. Before the ecological bricks, he created a device to capture the vapour of the steam escaping from the pressure cooker, which would then return to its liquid state - water that could be used for gardening.
"There is nothing useless in this world," says Desai. "The concept of waste does not exist in nature. It is human consumption that creates it, so it is our responsibility to get rid of it. And in the process of turning garbage into treasure, we can also create a lot of jobs."
When he was 11, one day at school, his best friend shoved a piece of gum under a desk and the gum ended up sticking to Binish's pants. He pulled it off as best he could and wrapped it in a sheet of paper, intending to throw it away when class was over. Then he forgot about it. At the end of the day, when he finally pulled it out of his pocket, it was rock hard.
Over the days, weeks, and years that followed, Desai experimented with different ingredients and proportions, always trying to build a better brick. He then made small cardboard moulds and began designing and processing small, durable bricks, with plans to build a dollhouse, that he completed at the age of 15.
After, thanks to the NonProfit organisation Rotary, Desai could do a year exchange at Waukegan High School in Illinois, US. He told his host parents, Patrick Jimerson and Theodora "Teddy" Anderson, about his bricks and his plans for the least expensive house in the world. Jimerson helped Desai to get a patent for his bricks and suggested him to pursue this as a career.
Back in India, Binish he studied a degree in biotechnology at Veer Narmad South Gujarat University and also founded a green company, through which he started producing bricks and building houses.
In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a national campaign called Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission. Their goal was to reduce litter, encourage recycling and end the practice of open defecation. Because Desai could make public toilets at 40 per cent of the cost of its competitors, its product was in high demand.
He also partnered with industrial companies to recycle paper, plastic, and metal waste into products like pavers and artificial wood panels.
And with his wife Dhriti, married in January 2019, Desai founded a social micro-business called Eco Lights Studio. The company employs women from rural India to make lamps, watches, jewellery and other products from industrial waste. Women work from home on their own hours and earn significantly more than they would in menial jobs they might otherwise get.
When Desai was a child, he dreamed of being like Captain Planet. And so Binish became a hero!
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