Precious Plastic: DIY Recycling

Plastic pollution has been making the headlines a lot recently and for good reason. According to the Guardian, about one truckload of plastic waste is dumped into the ocean every minute. That adds up to at least 8 million tons of plastics in our oceans annually!

While annual plastic production is increasing from 15 million tons 50 years ago to a predicted 1,124 million tons by 2050, only 5% of it is actually recycled. Not only is this incredibly devastating to the environment, but it is also ridiculous to throw away so much useful material after just one use! So, put down that bottle of water that you’re sipping on and DON’T recycle it. At least not in the way you were taught to at school.

Precious Plastic is a project that started in 2013 with a single mission: to transform plastic waste into reusable material on a local scale. Well, it also aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution, empower communities to take plastic waste into their own hands and ultimately save the world. Here’s how it works.

Dutch designer Dave Hakkens invented a series of machines capable of breaking plastic into smaller pieces in order to compress it, melt it and transform it into something new. He put these designs online and provided blueprints as well as a YouTube tutorial that anyone can follow for free! His idea spread all over the world as communities of passionate recyclers came together to make a difference. Hence, Precious Plastic Shanghai was born.

Precious Plastic Shanghai is a social enterprise highly committed to preserving the environment by creating awareness about plastic waste in China. Since 2016, they have been providing team building, hands-on activities and consultancy services for corporate, educational institutions as well as technological and exhibition centers. Their goal is to encourage teams and individuals to take ownership of their waste and get responsible. I attended their hard-plastic workshop last Sunday to see what all the fuss was about.

The workshop started with a lesson in distinguishing between different forms of plastic. Each type can be recognized by its identification number or, if it doesn’t have one, you can guess based on the way it looks, how it bends, or even the sound it makes. But in most cases, you can identify it based on its purpose.

After becoming slightly more educated in plastic, we got some HDPE (high-density polyethylene) bottles and the fun began. We cut the gigantic bottle into smaller pieces, put on goggles and started placing the pieces into the shredding machine. If nothing else sells you on this workshop, at least come to watch plastic getting ground up in a mesmerizing and surprisingly satisfying way. It’s absolutely magical.

Once shredded, the bits of plastic are sorted by color to provide a wide selection for when you create your recycled item. The rarest of all colors are pink and purple. Fun fact: black is the hardest color to recycle because the machines that do it cannot recognize it automatically.

Precious Plastic Shanghai offers a variety of workshops, but for this specific workshop we worked with boards of plastic slightly larger than an A4 piece of paper. We chose our preferred thickness and weighed the correct amount of plastic before filling the metal forms. My group’s plastic rainbow was heavy on blue while some of the others had every color imaginable!

Since it takes a while to compress, melt and then cool, we couldn’t actually work with the boards we prepared. Instead, we got to see the process of making them and then selected from previously made boards.

These boards can be made into anything from clipboards and clocks to artful designs or even jewelry. You just draw your design and use a powerful plastic cutting tool to carve out the desired shape. The possibilities are endless!

Although we only had flat boards to work with, you can use a variety of forms to create bowls, lamp shades and furniture! Once it cools, the plastic is hard and sturdy: a great material for pretty much anything. That’s what makes plastic so precious!

You don’t have to be rich to buy the materials to crate these amazing machines. They were specifically designed to be made with basic parts that can be purchased at most hardware stores anywhere in the world. The simple instructions allow anyone to buy the parts and follow the instructions to successfully create these plastic-transforming tools. But if you’re not an engineer or simply don’t have the time and patience to figure out how to do it, there might be an easier way for you to participate.

Precious Plastic Shanghai partners with XinCheJian, the first hacker space in China. This garage/studio/creative space offers membership for anyone who wishes to come in and get inspired. There are special workshops for people who want to learn to use these specific tools. Once you’re a member and have learned to use everything on your own, you can reserve a time to use the workshop and let your creativity flow.

Learn more about Precious Plastic on their website. To join XinCheJian or to learn more about Precious Plastic Shanghai, scan the QR code to follow them on WeChat.




Entoveganism: Veganism with a Six-legged Twist

“Curiosity, disgust and confusion,” is how some vegans respond to Josh’s creepy-crawly twist on the strict no animal product diet. While both veganism and entomophagy are growing trends around the world, Josh may be the first to combine them. ‘Entoveganism’ may sound like an oxymoron but it is the most accurate description for this unique diet.

Veganism, sometimes referred to as a plant-based-diet, has gained popularity for several reasons. Some studies have linked obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure to consuming processed animal products. Large-scale farming is also incredibly cruel to animals and causes irreparable damage to the environment. Health, love for animals and environmental impact are the top three reasons that people go vegan.

“A friend convinced me to give a plant-based diet a chance for a few months, and I was willing to do it,” Josh explained, “When I noticed really positive changes in my body after about six weeks of mostly just eating vegan, I decided to do it for the rest of the year, but incorporate insects into my diet as a larger percentage of what I was eating.”

Recently, a lot of athletes have given their vegan diets credit for theirmproved performances: 300-pound offensive tackle Trent Williams in the NFL, Kyrie Irving in the NBA, and the Willaims Sisters in tennis, to name a few. But if a vegan diet is already so effective, why eat insects? Health, according to Josh.

“I feel better than I have in years! My muscles recover quickly, I’m getting gains in the gym, my overall athletic ability has improved, my energy levels are great and I sleep well,” Josh lists the benefits of his entovegan diet. “I also had a big cyst on my back that I’d had for a couple of years that went away on its own just a few weeks into going vegan.”

Many vegans describe these positive effects without incorporating insects into their diets, but edible insects are not just great for health. Replacing meat with insects can have a great impact on our environment too and even on our economy. Developing countries can transform insect-farming as well as wild insect catching into a family. In Kenya, for example, women and the elderly sometimes support their families by selling edible insects.

When it comes to health, edible insects are more than just nutritious. Some studies show that mealworms contain an enzyme that can cure Alzheimer’s disease and we are still in the extremely early stages of research in this area.

“Are there cures for diseases, are there bugs high in antioxidants, are there superfood insects, is there some bug with a really fast life-cycle that is the perfect nutritional profile for humans?” Josh ponders. “Those questions are on the back burner for most people, but if the world were entovegan, that’d be a much higher priority. Because trust me, eating crickets every single day gets old after a while.”

As Josh points out, there are now a recorded 2,1 types of edible insects in the world. However, outside of black soldier fly larvae, crickets and mealworms, few make headlines or investments. There are many unknowns in the entomophagy industry, including the allergens, which can be a turn off for many people. So far, only a few types of insects have been studied thoroughly enough to determine that they are allergenic to people who are also allergic to shellfish.

“One of my biggest interests in the industry is finding out what other nutritional powerhouses are hidden among those other 2,000 insects that we don’t know about yet. From what we do know, it’s an extremely promising food source. If toasted cricket chips start to replace MSG-covered GMO corn chips, for example, it’s going to be a good thing for people’s diet in general.”

Although eating insects can seem extreme and unnatural to many people, it wasn’t that long ago that sushi was considered disgusting, and lobster was thought of as food for poor people and prisoners. Lobster is a great example because it’s essentially the cockroach of the ocean that eats trash, not to mention plastic that ends up in the ocean.

“Jay-Z and Beyonce now eat lobsters combined with $1,000 bottles of bubbly,” Josh points out. Hopefully in a few years or decades people will be serving gourmet insects at high-end events that pair wine and insects.

“Insects are far more sustainable than lobster, and arguably even more nutritious, so the shift will happen, but it’s going to take time,” Josh concludes. Learn more about entoveganism, Josh and his journey to a healthier lifestyle at


Sole independent Turkish Cypriot newspaper attacked

Afrika, the only independent Turkish Cypriot newspaper, was attacked on the morning of January 22nd. At 9am a group of people holding Turkish flags met in front of the newspaper’s office building in Nicosia. Violence escalated as they began throwing stones, eggs and allegedly trying to storm the office.

Afrika, the only independent Turkish Cypriot newspaper, was attacked on the morning of January 22nd. At 9am a group of people holding Turkish flags met in front of the newspaper’s office building in Nicosia. Violence escalated as they began throwing stones, eggs and allegedly trying to storm the office. The attacks were still happening at noon during a phone interview with Sener Levent, owner of Afrika.

“There are only 17 people in the newspaper office and we are hiding in a windowless room,” Levent said. The sound of the ongoing attack could still be heard over the phone. “There are hundreds of Turkish settlers in front of the newspaper chanting.”

Read the full article here: