Going Bananas: the story about a young innovator and bioplastic from…banana peels?
Meet Elif Bilgin, a young student, scientist and inventor, who became a social impactor in her teens. There is no doubt that most of you are a little bit confused by this powerful definition of a young girl. The truth is that Elif became a successful scientist at the early age of 16, so let me tell you a story about how little people can make big differences.
It all began when Elif was just a teenager, living in the big city of Istanbul. She was always aware of environmental problems, such as climate change and pollution, which is usual on a daily basis. At that time she became very concerned about this issue and started her research on what could be done in order to live in a cleaner place. She found out that one of the biggest problems is petroleum-based plastics which are causing a vast amount of pollution, but there is also a cheaper and eco-friendlier solution – a bioplastic. In case you have not heard about it, this type of plastic is made out of organic materials, containing starch. At that moment, when Elif just found out about bioplastics, she got a brilliant idea – to use bananas as a potential material. And guess what? She successfully researched discovered methods of creating bioplastics and worked hard for two years developing the project.
As Elif states on her official website, “The reason why I chose this particular aspect of science is that the bio-plastic is such a new concept and its range of use has been widening ever since it has been discovered (especially in the 21st century). The bio-plastic is a material which has the potential of causing a biological reform by means of reducing the amount of pollution caused by other plastic materials which contain petroleum derivatives”.
She also describes her discovered method to be simpler than it looks: “The method I designed is so simple, it is possible to say that one could actually do it at home (some chemicals used are irritant but not extremely dangerous). This way, anyone could use this plastic.“
As a result of her incredible patience and devotion, despite many unsuccessful experiments, she finally achieved her aim – her vision of bioplastic from banana peels came to life. In other words, this young girl, who is now in her early twenties, played a significant role in creating a better and cleaner world for all of us. In addition to her success and many scientific awards, Elif Bilgin had a great impact to new generation by encouraging them to be innovators, saying ‘I don’t think that it is your age that determines the potential you have – it is the unlimited imagination you have that gives you the unlimited potential to create’.
written by Ieva Tilindyte, European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute
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