2021 Grants Challenge

Precious Plastic Youth L.A.- Engaging Youth in Environmental Issues Through Creative Plastic Recycling

By bringing simple recycling machines and mobile workshops to schools, we can engage students in sustainability education and help them understand the process of recycling. Ultimately, spreading education amongst youth will grow a new generation active in the fight against climate change.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

With each new generation, plastic pollution becomes an ever increasing problem worldwide, with wide reaching impacts on wildlife, the ocean, and human health (1 in 3 fish caught by humans contains plastic that could've absorbed harmful chemicals like DDT's and PCB's). In LA County alone, 28 tons of solid waste are produced annually, while only around 10% of this waste is recycled. While youth often claim that they deeply care about the environment, recycling and sustainability are rarely, if ever, taught in the classroom. It's difficult for students to be introduced to concepts that they can't visibly see or interact with, that they feel doesn't directly affect them, which is where our machine comes in. By having a tangible, memorable experience with recycling and sustainability, they'll gain a more complete understanding of the problem, what they can do to fix it, and what they can do to preserve it.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

We plan on traveling to different schools weekly to hold educational events where students can learn about recycling their own plastic waste and gain the opportunity to turn waste into new functional products. Through a hands on, kid-friendly experience with the recycling process, students will be able to better understand the ramifications of their own waste. The machines can shred plastic waste into smaller pieces that can be easily melted and reshaped. The melted plastic can be shaped into bowls, and cups, wound into hats, or even used as filament for 3d printers. It can also fill small molds with plastic- anything that can be molded can be created, such as combs, small toys, key chains and earrings. The machine is relatively easy to transport which makes it perfect for traveling to different events, and additionally is easy to set up on site. These machines make plastic recycling easily understandable and can be readily operated by anyone, making them perfect for widespread usage and education. By operating the machines, students can both reduce the amount of plastic sent to landfills and gain experience in fighting against the pollution problem, along with gaining a better understanding of the process of recycling, and the necessity for sustainable prevention work. We will adhere to the LA County public health guidelines in every event, limiting group sizes to 12 students at a time,maintaining social distance outdoors, and abiding by strict disinfecting procedures.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 2,000

Indirect Impact: 7,680

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Our goal is to spread a greater understanding of sustainability, consistently partnering with a wide range of schools and educating students across LA County. Eventually we plan for expansion by having numerous mobile machines to travel to even more schools monthly, increasing our impact. Additionally, as part of our expansion, a permanent workshop would be created where the LA community could come to recycle their own plastic. Plastic products created from a permanent workshop with the more robust non-mobile machines would be larger and tougher, with a wide range of uses, e.g. tables, chairs, or even durable bricks that could be used to create shelters and donated to those in need With less plastic pollution, our community would be cleaner and safer for all of it's inhabitants, regardless of species. Additionally, widespread education would create daily change for the students and their families as they learned to implement sustainable practices and prevent new plastic waste.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We plan on measuring the tangible impact (such as a decrease in plastic pollution) and cultural impact (a decrease in the consumption of plastic) through several methods: 1. Tabulating the decreased plastic waste in school or individual household - through surveys done BEFORE and AFTER participation in the workshop. 2. Weighing the amount of plastic waste recycled at the event 3. Tracking the number of active student participants. 4. Tracking the number of schools that participated. 5. Record the number of schools that acquired precious plastic machines to continue their in school education/awareness. 6. Record the number of schools that have adopted and continued the project through clubs. While any measure of reduced plastics and ongoing recycling would be considered success, our overarching goal would be to do 100 events producing 10,000 up cycled products yearly and 50% decrease in plastic consumed by affected households.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Precious Plastic LA is a registered 501c3 organization, and they are willing to support our cause. They've had a great success in organizing their own events and managing plastic machines, so the support that they would provide would be perfectly tailored to our project. They would be our advisor and consultant. The Sea monkey Project has provided successful mobile recycling and sustainability educational events to elementary students in schools all over Malaysia and have shared the blueprint of their success to us.

Which of the LEARN metrics will you impact?​

Public arts and cultural events

Arts education

Enrollment in afterschool programs

Proficiency in STEM

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE