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Inventor’s deposit ring puts change in a bottle

Germany is known for its strong social system. Still, it’s not uncommon to see people in need of some extra cash rummaging through public trash cans for old bottles that carry a deposit.

Beer bottles are worth just 8 cents, but most plastic bottles can be redeemed for 25 cents. For some people, it’s not worth the trouble of taking them back to the store to get their deposit. But for others, a bag full of bottles can mean one more warm meal.

Paul Ketz in Cologne was bothered by all the deposit bottles he saw being thrown away, knowing that they were valuable to the less fortunate – not to mention the damage excess waste causes the environment.

So the 25-year-old came up with a brilliant idea that’s been catching on, not only in Cologne, but across Germany. Watch the video by Carl Nasman for a glimpse into Paul Ketz’s workshop:

Listen to Carl Nasman’s full report from Cologne for the whole story:

Cologne was the first city in Germany to order the rings (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

Cologne was the first city in Germany to order the rings (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

Most plastic bottles are worth 25 cents, glass are worth only 8 cents (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

Most plastic bottles are worth 25 cents, glass are worth only 8 cents (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

The rings are starting to catch on across Germany (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

The rings are starting to catch on across Germany (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

First published on April 29, 2014

Date

Tuesday 23.09.2014 | 15:01

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Cleaning up Latvia’s coastline

The Baltic is one of the most polluted seas in the world. There’s litter strewn along many of the beaches on Latvia’s Baltic coast, and waste from industry and agriculture seep into the water.

But despite the pollution problem, local environmentalist Uldis Mors is determined to remind people of the beauty of the 500 kilometer shore. The 25-year-old has organized a special group expedition along the stretch of coast as part of a campaign called “Mana jūra,” or “My Sea” in English.

He’s hoping the trek will raise awareness about the fragile ecosystem, and persuade participants the shore is worth protecting.

Listen to the report by Gederts Gelzis in Riga, Latvia:

Uldis wants to show people the beauty of the Baltic Sea coast (Photo: G. Gelzis)

Uldis wants to show people the beauty of the Baltic Sea coast (Photo: G. Gelzis)

Date

Wednesday 13.08.2014 | 07:41

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Saving France’s beaches from a plastic invasion

About five years ago millions of mysterious plastic pieces started appearing on France’s beautiful beaches. They were filters from nearby water treatment plants, where they play a useful role. But when the treatment plants overflow, the plastic filters escape and end up polluting the environment.

One 25-year-old Frenchman heard about the plastic invasion and decided to help protect the coastal environment. As a volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation Europe he’s been picking up as many plastic pieces as he can find. And that’s not all – he’s on a mission to find out where exactly these filters are coming from to hold the polluters accountable.

Listen to the report from Charlotta Lomas in La Teste-de-Buch, France

(first published October 29, 2013):

Charleric Bailly is tracking down the sources of plastic pollution. (Photo: C. Lomas)

Charleric Bailly is not only picking up as many plastic filters as he can find on France’s beaches but also tracking down the sources of plastic pollution. (Photo: C. Lomas)

These small plastic filters, also known as biocarriers, are used in wastewater treatment plants where they play a useful role. But when the treatment plants overflow, the plastic filters escape and end up polluting the environment. (Photo: C. Lomas)
These small plastic filters, also known as biocarriers, are used in wastewater treatment plants where they play a useful role. But when the treatment plants overflow, the plastic filters escape and end up polluting the environment. (Photo: C. Lomas)

Catherine Gonnot, secretary of Surfrider Foundation Gironde, is appreciative of Charlo’s volunteer work. (Photo: C. Lomas)

Catherine Gonnot, secretary of Surfrider Foundation Gironde, is appreciative of Charlo’s volunteer work. (Photo: C. Lomas)

The Surfrider Foundation organizes events like the recent Beach Day at La Teste-de-Buch, France. (Photo: C. Lomas)

The Surfrider Foundation organizes events like the Beach Day at La Teste-de-Buch, France. (Photo: C. Lomas)

 

Date

Tuesday 03.06.2014 | 14:51

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Inventor’s deposit ring puts change in a bottle

Germany is known for its strong social system. Still, it’s not uncommon to see people in need of some extra cash rummaging through public trash cans for old bottles that carry a deposit.

Beer bottles are worth just 8 cents, but most plastic bottles can be redeemed for 25 cents. For some people, it’s not worth the trouble of taking them back to the store to get their deposit. But for others, a bag full of bottles can mean one more warm meal.

Paul Ketz in Cologne was bothered by all the deposit bottles he saw being thrown away, knowing that they were valuable to the less fortunate – not to mention the damage excess waste causes the environment.

So the 25-year-old came up with a brilliant idea that’s been catching on, not only in Cologne, but across Germany. Watch the video by Carl Nasman for a glimpse into Paul Ketz’s workshop:

Listen to Carl Nasman’s full report from Cologne for the whole story:

Cologne was the first city in Germany to order the rings (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

Cologne was the first city in Germany to order the rings (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

Most plastic bottles are worth 25 cents, glass are worth only 8 cents (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

Most plastic bottles are worth 25 cents, glass are worth only 8 cents (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

The rings are starting to catch on across Germany (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

The rings are starting to catch on across Germany (Copyright: 2013 Pawn Ring by Paul Ketz / Photo: Markus Diefenbacher)

Date

Tuesday 29.04.2014 | 14:32

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Seattle mapmaker protects local land

Ben Hughey makes maps. As a kid growing up in Alaska, he used a GPS to hike off-trail. Then, as a college junior, he combined his GPS skills with his mapmaking ability to help three indigenous communities in Ecuador create maps of their lands, which they’ll use to defend themselves against future land incursions.

Now, at age 25, Ben is using mapmaking to try to get people on board land conservation projects in Washington State, in the north-western United States.

Listen to the report by Eilís O’Neill in Seattle:

Ben Hughey stands next to the biggest map he’s ever made - a two-meter-tall, five-meter-wide map of the Mountains to Sound Greenway (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Ben Hughey stands next to the biggest map he’s ever made – a two-meter-tall, five-meter-wide map of the Mountains to Sound Greenway (Photo: E. O’Neill)

Ben's pictured here taking a GPS point with his smart phone (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Ben’s pictured here taking a GPS point with his smart phone (Photo: E. O’Neill)

Ben is showing reporter Eilís O'Neill that they're not lost (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Ben is showing reporter Eilís O’Neill that they’re not lost (Photo: E. O’Neill)

Ben is an avid bike rider - and his good sense of navigation comes in handy (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Ben is an avid bike rider – and his good sense of navigation comes in handy (Photo: E. O’Neill)

 

 

 

 

Date

Tuesday 18.02.2014 | 13:26

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Former fashion designer saves Borneo reefs

The dream of fame and fortune is a familiar one for many young people – but giving it up in pursuit of activism is much less common.  Twenty-seven-year-old Felicity “Flik” Finlayson did just that – in one of the most extreme ways possible. She gave up her goal of becoming a fashion designer and moved to a remote island in Borneo to devote her life fulltime to marine conservation with the organization TRACC.

Listen to the report by Emily Richmond from Pom Pom Island in Malaysian Borneo:

Felicity Finlayson relaxing with local staff on Pom Pom Island, Malaysia

Flik went to Pom Pom Island on vacation – and stayed (Photo: F. Finlayson)

Felicity "Flik" Finlayson working underwater on a new artificial reef

Flik rebuilds portions of the reef, then replants the in the ocean (Photo: TRACC)

Coral plugs growing in underwater nursery on Pom Pom Island

These coral plugs are meant to enhance the existing reefs off of Pom Pom Island (Photo: TRACC)

"Flik" using walker during her recovery

Flik’s leg was nearly severed in a boat accident while working on the reefs – but she has fully recovered (Photo: F. Finlayson)

 

 

Date

Tuesday 11.02.2014 | 13:15

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Turning Kenya’s trash into treasure

Plastic can take hundreds, even thousands of years to break down in the environment. In Kenya, communities are struggling to cope with the thousands of tons of waste being generated each year.

Despite having grown up in a slum littered with trash, 28-year-old Lorna Ruto developed a passion for taking care of the natural environment. 

Now her passion has become her business, turning plastic waste from the city of Nairobi into something useful – fence posts. Her goal is not only to grow a successful company, but also to provide her community with much-needed jobs.

Listen to the report by Andrew Wasike in Nairobi, Kenya:

Turning Kenya’s trash into treasure

Lorna Ruto

Lorna Ruto was tired of seeing trash in her neighborhood – so she came up with an efficient way of cleaning it up (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Employees sorting plastic

The first step is gathering and sorting reusable plastics (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Employees manning the machines

Then the old plastic is processed in Lorna’s factory (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Plastic poles

Here’s the result: sturdy and sustainable fence posts (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Lorna and Charles

Charles Kalama, pictured here with Lorna, is a co-founder of Eco Post (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Lorna at work with client

Lorna not only makes the fence posts, she then has to sell them; she’s pictured here with a client (Photo: Andrew Wasike)

Date

Tuesday 15.10.2013 | 14:39

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Eco-tourism in China

Xiao Zuo, outdoor adventurer and entrepreneur, represents a growing number of young Chinese interested in exploring their country’s wild places.

Since founding the 54 Traveler tourism company with her husband, she’s organized countless outdoor trips, always emphasizing responsible travel guidelines, like packing out trash and respect for local communities.

Xiao Zuo says she hopes the people who join her excursions will become invested in protecting China’s environment. China’s government has vowed to address environmental concerns after taking a growth-at-all-costs approach during the country’s economic opening.

Listen to the report by Ruth Morris in Hangzhou, China:

Eco-tourism in China

Xiao Zuo

Xiao Zuo combines tourism with environmental protection (Photo: Glen Fu)

Glen Fu

Xiao Zuo works together with her husband, Glen Fu (Photo: Glen Fu)

 

Date

Tuesday 08.10.2013 | 13:48

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Bhutan’s ‘trash guy’

Karma Yonten calls himself a “trash guy,” and one thing is certain: He is enthusiastic about waste. Growing up in Bhutan, a small, not very densely populated Himalayan kingdom, 29-year-old Karma never imagined himself working with garbage. There simply wasn’t any when he was young. But the country is developing fast, which opened up Karma to the idea of starting Bhutan’s first private waste management firm in 2010.
Now he teaches other people in his country all about recycling by offering them money in return for segregated waste and by teaching children about the value of it. He even owns a shirt made out of plastic bottles, especially imported from Japan, to show the extent of what is possible. “It makes them excited about waste,” Karma explains with a smile.
This report was supported in part by the Postcode Loterij Fonds for journalists by Free Press Unlimited.
Listen to the report by Aletta André in Timphu, Bhutan:
Bhutans trash guy
Karma Yonten

Every little bit counts (Photos: Aletta André)

Karma Yonten

Karma is proud of being known as the trash guy (Photo: Aletta André)

Karma Yonten

Karma has received numerous awards for his entrepreneurship and activism (Photo: Aletta André)

Date

Tuesday 17.09.2013 | 12:26

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Young climate activists in Kenya

After graduating from high school, most people look to start a career, but DW catches up with a few young people who have different plans: saving the environment. Volunteers from around the globe are helping the Kenyan environmental organization Ecofinder improve conditions around Africa’s Lake Victoria. Global warming, population growth, and deforestation on the lake’s shores have all increased environmental stress in the region.

Watch the video:

Date

Thursday 04.10.2012 | 08:47

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