Astounding Use of Plastic Waste from Ocean: Prosthetic Limbs

Adventerra Games was excited to learn about the Million Waves Project, which brings together two unacceptable global situations (ocean pollution and people living without limbs) and offers a practical and sustainable solution. The group takes recycled plastic cleaned from the ocean and turns it into 3D printable material. One of the most amazing things they are creating out of the plastic waste is prosthetic limbs. It takes about 30 water bottles to make a hand, for instance.

Since the collection of plastic waste is part of their mission, The Million Waves Project educates citizens on how to start a cleanup. Their website shows how DIY Cleanups can help, even with one person for a few minutes a day. It also instructs how to organize a cleanup event. They have a reference sheet on Compost vs. Recycling vs. Garbage. Its project can only convert polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic into 3D printing material, so they explain how to differentiate the plastic they need and then how to get it to them, and what to do with other kinds of plastic. We can all do our part!

Astounding use of Plastic Waste from Ocean: Prosthetic Limbs

Million Waves partners with a “digital humanitarian” organization called e-NABLE, which enlists hundreds of its volunteers to crowdsource their 3-D printers. The Million Waves Project has a tab labeled Limb Request: which explains how to apply for consideration to receive a limb, and specifics for how to take and submit digital pictures needed for consideration. The limbs are provided at no cost to recipients.

According to the Washington Post, Million Waves and e-NABLE match children with makers in their area. “The owner of the printer and the family organize fittings and print the custom hand. Kids can even request a “Frozen”-themed Elsa hand or an “Iron Man” arm. All of the design files are open-source and available through ¬e-NABLE” the Feb. 23, 2020 Post article said.

We also loved this part of the Washington Post story about Abbey, “a cheerful 11-year-old with dozens of gymnastics medals. She was born with symbrachydactyly, a limb difference on her left hand. One child out of 32,000 births has this congenital condition, characterized by missing, shorter or conjoined fingers.

‘I think people tend to be careful with kids who maybe only have one leg or only have one hand…. [Abbey] has taught me a lot about bravery and being courageous,’ said Abbey’s mother, Melissa McPherren. ‘There’s no limit you can put on any kid, with any limb difference or any difference.’

Abbey has a purple and green prosthetic hand, custom-made with recycled ocean plastic by the Million Waves Project. Abbey, who lives with her family outside Seattle, is one of the project’s young spokespersons.

‘We’re big ocean people,’ McPherren said. Becoming involved with Million Waves has sparked a passion for ocean conservation in Abbey. ‘Now when she sees plastic or anything at the beach, she’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, we’ve got to pick that up, Mom.’”

We at Adventerra Games salute both organizations for their creative problem-solving and mobilizing people who want to help address these two challenges. We hope you’ll explore both and consider helping!