By Binish Desai, a member of the Rotary Club of Bulsar, India, and a former Rotary Youth Exchange student
I started my journey in Rotary as a Youth Exchange Student in 2009-10, hosted by the Rotary Club of Waukegan, Illinois, USA. I’m now a member of the Rotary Club of Bulsar, India, and Rotary helps me live out my dream, a dream I have had since age 11 – giving back to my community in service.
In 2005, I created my first brick using industrial paper waste and chewing gum. Similar bricks of recycled materials would go on to make thousands of stand-alone toilets for rural communities by 2015. The company I founded, Eco Eclectic Technologies, continues to research and invent new products in pursuit of a clean India. It is a vision captured in one of my mantras:
“Nothing is useless in this world. What might be a waste to you is someone else’s assets.”
I like to tell people that Eco Eclectic Technologies is a transformation parlor for industrial waste. Neglected and unwanted waste comes to us instead of the landfill, and we transform it into useful items that people can use in their everyday lives.
EcoLights Studio: a micro social enterprise that is connected to Eco Eclectic Technologies, aims to employ non-skilled women and rural artisans. We teach them how to create light fixtures, made entirely of waste, by hand. Every light that is purchased recycles 7 kilograms of waste, helping reduce carbon emission and electronic waste. The lights themselves are 90 percent recyclable.
Bin-Nish means “without darkness, spreading light.” To fulfill the meaning of my name, I teach a waste management course for college and high school students. Students experiment with waste to find innovative solutions. When you start experimenting with waste, you will never end up empty handed. These students represent the hope of finding even more solutions, toward the goal of constantly improving our country.
And throughout this process, Rotary and Rotarians have supported my innovations and have been able to contribute to many of our unique projects. One way we show our dedication to the environment is plant one tree in an industrial area for every light fixture we sell, and ensure they are maintained. It thrills me to know that Rotary shares my concern for the planet, a fact demonstrated by President Ian H.S. Riseley’s challenge this year to clubs to plant a tree for every member of their club. It’s yet another way I find my own values aligning with Rotary.
Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self has always inspired its members to contribute to society. To me, Rotary is family. And I look forward to continuing to make a difference in the world with innovations for a cleaner and more sustainable world, inspired and supported by my Rotary family.
About the author: Binish Desai runs Eco Eclectic Technologies, a lab that recycles and reuses more than 50 different types of industrial waste and converts it into more than 150 products. In 2017, Desai received the RI Alumni Global Service award for zone 6A. Desai was recently listed by Forbes Asia in their list of 30 Under 30 social entrepreneurs.