The 2019 World Vision Social Innovation Challenge became a global stage for five Stratford School students as they presented their innovative solution on the Philippines water crisis.
The team comprising of founder Amirah Mahomed, Sylvia Bogdanowicz, Cindy Le, Kristen Fajardo and Laura Kraehling surpassed 46 competitors from across Canada, and earned $25,000, directed towards developing their clean water initiative over a 12-month incubation period.
The students’ goal was to reduce plastic waste in the Philippines using an environmentally-friendly alternative to disposable pollutant, the seaweed.
The project began as a school assignment in January. The team selected the Philippines water crisis being the perfect fit.
A 2015 study conducted by the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Philippines found that lack of clean water kills nearly 55 people daily.
Many of the issues arising from the Philippines water crisis are directly linked to the large presence of low-quality plastics in water systems.
These plastics contaminate ocean water, cloge rivers, spread diseases and pollute drinking water.
Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit organisation based out of Washington, singled out the Philippines as one of the world’s top five plastic polluters. The team realised the need for immediate attention and designed Virtuous Waste.
The group learned that seaweed is water-soluble, environmentally friendly and contains certain nutrients that help purify water systems and encourage healthy biodiversity.
Seaweed is available in abundance in the Philippines, making it an easy-access resource and also a source of jobs.
The team received the opportunity to compete at the 2019 Social Innovation Challenge, a challenge that aims to support young Canadian entrepreneurs to take steps towards creating marked based solutions for current world issues.
The Virtuous Waste project won $25,000 from the challenge on a 12-month incubation period, defeating some of Canada’s brightest young minds. Their current motto is geared towards throwing away plastics permanently and helping to change the cycle.
Through this venture, Virtuous Waste looks to implement a scalable solution not only for the Philippines, but globally, thereby putting an end to the reign of plastics over everyday lives.