Helping save the planet – The Bowerbird Project and Village in a Box

On Wednesday, Qantas successfully flew its first “zero waste” flight between Sydney and Adelaide. This is a huge deal, given the amount of plastic waste piling up in landfill and plaguing our oceans.

According to a Qantas press release, their first-ever commercial flight to produce no landfill waste marked the start of Qantas’ plan to cut 100 million single-use plastics by end-2020 and eliminate 75 per cent of the airline’s waste by end-2021. The airline’s waste reduction initiative has been termed The Bowerbird Project, named after the Australian bird that reuses small plastic items.

On the flight, about 1000 single-use plastic items were substituted with sustainable alternatives or removed altogether from the flight, including individually-packaged servings of milk and Vegemite, Qantas stated.

With meal containers made from sugar cane and cutlery composed of crop starch, all of which are fully compostable, Qantas cabin crew collected the items left over for reuse, recycling or composting in multiple waste streams.

And these changes can’t come too soon.

The mass production of plastics has accelerated so rapidly over the past six decades has created 8.3 billion metric tons of it—mostly in disposable products that end up as rubbish – totalling approximately 6.3 billion metric tons. Even the scientists who set out to conduct the world’s first tally of how much plastic has been produced, discarded, burned or put in landfills, were horrified by the sheer size of the numbers, an article by National Geographic has revealed. Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form. And with only 12 percent having been incinerated (creating air pollution), we have created a huge mess for ourselves both on land and in the ocean.

Nominated among 20 finalists for the Chivas Venture 2019 Awards – which awards $1 million in funding to social entrepreneurs who blend profit with purpose to have a positive impact on the world – is The Sustainable Group – who are developing the first kind of off-grid, self-sustained ecological village, providing a holistic kit of houses, water, energy, food and waste solutions for countries lacking infrastructure development budgets.

Called Village in a Box, it is the brainchild of Israeli earthquake-readiness expert Ephraim Laor who recruited Israeli green-construction expert Victor Haym Hajaj to help make housing for 1 million refugees of the civil war in Congo. Hajaj had unique expertise in building fast, affordable, earthquake-proof houses known as monolithic domes.

“Developing countries, as their name suggests, are still developing, leaving millions without access to clean water, food and energy. We provide a solution to those in need, enabling them to evolve, to work, to create, and to become part of a prosperous and healthy community,” The Sustainable Group’s website revealed.

“I fell in love with the idea because it represents a big hope for humanity,” says Jonathan Haran, previously head of Engineers Without Borders Israel, a social-impact NGO that designs projects to improve life in developing countries, and is a partner in The Sustainable Group.

“Our aim is to build a better future without hurting the environment.”

Check out these other socially and environmentally aware entrepreneurs here.

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