Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Michigan Native Develops Visionary Solution for Flint’s Plastic Bottle Problem

Business
A pair of Genusee glasses and a Flint-sewn polish bag. Genusee

When Detroit-area native Ali Rose VanOverBeke came back home in 2016 to volunteer with the Red Cross at the height of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, she probably didn't expect to get a business idea with the potential to change both her and Flint's future.


But that is exactly what happened. VanOverBeke noticed the buildup of plastic water bottles outside people's homes, which residents had to rely on for drinking water since their tap water was contaminated by lead.

"They're not just facing a manmade water crisis," VanOverBeke told ABC News in a story published Thursday. "Now, there's like this localized, environmental stress because of the surplus of plastic that they've been forced to use."

To solve the problem, VanOverBeke turned to her former classmate at New School's Parsons School of Design Jack Burns.

The pair came up with a creative plan to transform the discarded water bottles into unique eyeglasses designed to fit anyone.

"Our goal is simple: do good for people and the planet using design and collaboration to be the change we want to see," a Kickstarter campaign for the project reads.

Last year, the pair set up a company for the glasses called Genusee, named after Flint's Genesee county. They plan for the company to be a "for Flint, by Flint" effort and are working on setting up a manufacturing facility in Flint.

"We are working toward really being a part of not just like the immediate solution in Flint but being a part of the long-term solution," VanOverBeke told ABC News.

To this end, they launched the Kickstarter campaign April 18 with the goal of hiring 17 new workers. With six hours to go as of this writing, they have raised $71,329, more than exceeding their $50,000 goal.

"Genusee is bringing a new manufacturing legacy to the city of Flint by creating jobs; turning the surplus of plastic waste caused by the man-made water crisis into closed loop eyewear," the Kickstarter campaign says.

Each pair of glasses recycles 15 single-use plastic bottles.

The glasses so far come in one style, called The Roeper, that the Kickstarter says is "democratically designed" to flatter a diverse array of face shapes. The frames come in Crystal Fog and Classic Black, and can be used for prescription glasses or sunglasses.

Currently, Flint residents are already involved with sewing the glasses' polish bags at a center that provides employment training for women.

"That we are able to take the water bottles that are just trash, to have them processed into new material, is so amazing to me," one of the sewers, Marty Calhoun, told ABC News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Hector Chapa

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.

Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.

Read More Show Less
In Germany's Hunsrück village of Schorbach, numerous photovoltaic systems are installed on house roofs, on Sept. 19, 2019. Thomas Frey / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.

Read More Show Less