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The World's Most Sustainable Skateboard

You've seen the pictures -- dolphins, fish, and turtles lie trapped, writhing and dying in abandoned fishing nets, permanently wrecking the...

You've seen the pictures -- dolphins, fish, and turtles lie trapped, writhing and dying in abandoned fishing nets, permanently wrecking the fragile balance of our ocean ecosystems. These "ghost nets," as they're called, are a particular problem on the vast coastline of Chile, where landfills are privatized, and where fishermen have to dispose of old nets on their own. Even if the infrastructure was in place to do so effectively, many can't afford to cover the price.


But three American mechanical engineers are rolling in with a solution: they've spent the last year and a half designing a skateboard that offers an ingenious and affordable way for fishermen to recycle plastic waste. After raising more than twice the project's original funding goal of $25,000, "The Minnow" is set to start its first full production run later this year.

When Ben Kneppers moved to Santiago to work as an environmental consultant for the Chilean think tank Fundación Chile, he was struck by how limited resources were in coastal areas for managing fishing waste. Kneppers got together with friends David Stover and Kevin Ahearn to start brainstorming.

"We wanted something that would bring excitement and let the product tell our story," Stover says. "Once we had the skateboard idea, it just took off."

Early last year, Kneppers started building relationships with Chilean fishing syndicates, setting up net recycling programs funded by the New England Aquarium. A Chilean start up accelerator made a seed investment in their idea and launched Bureo Skateboards into existence.

"At first, we were really perceived as these crazy gringos coming in here picking up the trash," Kneppers says. "Now that we actually have this board and can show them that this was made from the [discarded] materials, they're really getting behind it. Our vision is to create this material as a commodity for this community."

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Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

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"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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