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In the following months, Justin learned how to turn fishing line into bracelets, transform plastic bags into doormats, recycle crayons, and shred plastic to make bowls. For him, turning trash into treasure became a thing of magic. He even collected 200 pounds of plastic caps, and transformed this trash into a buddy bench for his school.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

On Earth Day 2019, Perise Foran, an environmental science student from Cameroon reached out to Justin asking for help. Justin saw that the streams where Perise lived were overflowing with plastic garbage, and quickly agreed to help his new friend. The two of them started off with a plan to transform the 8,000 plastic bottles Perise collected on a World Litter Run and had been sitting in his yard for over 6 months.

According to Reuters, every minute, a million plastic bottles are bought around the world. And according to PlasticOceans.org, every minute, a full garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into our oceans. Upon learning those facts, Justin further strengthened his resolve.

He started asking everyone he was connected to for suggestions on what could be done with Perise’s stockpile of bottles. Soon, creative upcycling ideas began pouring in from all around the world. Justin completed the projects with family and friends in the United States, and encouraged Perise to do the same in “parallel” in Cameroon. That’s when Justin’s Parallel Projects GoFundMe was created. Its aim is to raise awareness about water quality, find creative solutions to the plastic pollution issue, educate people to move away from single-use plastics, and inspire youth to become eco-heroes.

Soon, the Parallel Projects ideas spread to other countries like Kenya, Canada, Tanzania, and Nigeria, resulting in trash transforming into toys, bottle cap art, flower planters, jewelry, and more.

One might think that Justin had his hands full with all these projects… but he didn’t stop there.

This summer, Justin’s dream of visiting the rare and exotic frogs of Ecuador’s Choco Cloud Forest came true with the Reserva Youth Council. Through his land conservation GoFundMe, and with generous donations from the Rainforest Trust, Old Navy, and the public, Justin purchased 30 acres of land which protected habitat for critically endangered species that were at risk from logging and ranching.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sather

Through a separate Reserva Youth Council initiative, Justin’s goal now is to collect a million letters from young people like himself to send to world leaders with the aim of protecting 30% of the planet by 2030.

For anyone looking to help the planet Justin suggests to “start off small, take chances, and be brave.”

To learn more about Justin Sather and his initiatives visit his website. Or donate directly to his GoFundMe’s For the Love of Frogs, the Parallel Projects, and habitat protection in Ecuador.

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