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Three 14-Year-Olds Just Figured Out a Way to Recycle Styrofoam

The teens were just in eighth grade when they announced their findings.


What were you doing in eighth grade? Personally, I was spending most of my time in Tumblr, saving images of hip Urban Outfitters clothing and writing about heartbreak while listening to Bon Iver. What I wasn't doing was figuring out a way to recycle Styrofoam and change the world.

Luckily for all of us, there are teens out there who are actually changing the world, according to Global Citizen.

Julia Bray, Luke Clay and Ashton Cofer were all just 14 when they figured out they could use the carbon already present in Styrofoam products to ultimately break it down and recycle it.

According to Scientific American, the teens "hypothesized that they could use heat to to convert the Styrofoam into activated carbon — which could then be used to filter water."

After around "50 hours of experimental work," the teens were successful.

They figured out a way to convert used Styrofoam into activated carbon to filter water, a discovery that lead to a Scientific American Innovator Award and a TED talk.

Why is this such an important discovery? Because Styrofoam has had a massive environmental impact on the planet and landfills throughout the years.

Styrofoam is non-biodegradable, meaning that it would take anywhere from 500 to 1 million years for it to eventually break down.

It comes as no surprise then that, according to Global Citizen, Styrofoam takes up 30 percent of the world's landfill space.

As Cofer explains in the TED Talk, the teens' solution to recycling Styrofoam solved two problems in one. They figured out a way to recycle the Styrofoam and lessen the amount that will end up in landfills, but they also discovered a way to effectively filter water.

Did I mention they figured this out when they were only 14?

In any case, the discovery is a huge win for the environment and a major inspiration for anyone who thinks they're too young or too inexperienced to make a difference.

Add your name right now to make a difference for marine life and our oceans with Oceana.

Add your name right now to make a difference for marine life and our oceans with Oceana.
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