The Washington Post: 12 kids who are changing their communities and our world

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Haaziq Kazi, 13, India

Cause: Ocean trash

It was the sight of a dead whale in a National Geographic documentary that moved Haaziq Kazi to act. Washed ashore, the whale had 37 pounds of plastic inside its bloated stomach.

“Two things stuck to me: The first was the magnitude of the problem, and the second was the impact it has on life,” he said.

So when the time came for a school project, when students had to come up with solutions to a problem they felt strongly about, Haaziq chose to work on ocean trash.

“There are about 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean,” he said. “This would be enough to stack two-liter plastic bottles from here to the moon and back — twice.”

Haaziq, then 9 years old, attempted to create a device that could help clean the oceans. Finished in three years, the first concept design of the device — called ERVIS — is a ship with saucers and chambers. While saucers would float on the surface of the ocean, creating a whirlpool to suck the waste inside, the chamber compartments would store the waste. The ship would then separate the waste into large, medium, small and plastic particle categories. The waste would be forwarded for recycling on land. It would be powered by renewable energy and have a mechanism to filter out marine life that may get pulled inside.

He has worked with a product designer to make a 3-D printed model, and he intends “to work on a real-life model in the next stage,” said Haaziq, who is collaborating with scientists and engineers. “This is literally a moonshot project with huge funding requirements.”

While the ship is the long-term goal, he has not stopped his fight against plastic. Six months ago, he set up the ERVIS Foundation to bring a “generational change,” by educating kids about the effects of plastic usage. The foundation has created an app to track daily consumption of plastic, provide tips on how to cut down plastic use and sell zero-waste products.

“You are never too young to make a difference,” says the eighth-grader from the city of Pune in western India. Haaziq was invited to New York in 2017 for a Ted-Ed talk about his project. In his free time, he likes having fun with Nintendo video games and playing the piano.

“When I grow up, I see myself as problem solver,” said Haaziq, who admires technology entrepreneur Elon Musk. “He challenged the status quo and made what people perceive as impossible possible, and that’s what I want to do.”

— Niha Masih

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