Can You Help Solve The Plastics Problem? Make Good Project Invites New Ideas.

Plastic is choking our oceans. A new design and innovation challenge is calling upon the next generation of changemakers to reverse our planet’s pollution problem.

We made plastic. We depend on it. Now we’re drowning in it. It pools in the farthest reaches of the ocean and collects on the slopes of the highest mountains; researchers have found it in whales’ bellies and in the groundwater reserves we tap for drinking. Every day, about one megaton more is produced, enough to make almost 22 trillion water bottles—and more than 90 percent of that will never see the inside of a recycling plant.

The question is – what can we do about it? How can we stop this ‘miracle material’ from drowning the planet?

National Geographic and global innovation consultancy R/GA believe that the next generation of changemakers may have the answer. Built on a firm belief that transformational ideas can come from anywhere, from anyone, the two organisations have joined forces to launch Make Good – a unique platform on a mission to accelerate design, technology, and innovation for a better world.

Tapping into Australia’s latent creativity and expertise, the Make Good project is currently inviting Australians to put their best idea forward to defy plastic and reverse the harm it is inflicting on our oceans. Applicants will be applying for a place at a Defy Plastic Innovation Lab, held during the first ever plastic-free Semi-Permanent Festival 2019 in Sydney (23rd - 25th May).

“Much of Australia is made up of coastal communities where we find over 75% of marine debris is made of plastic,” says Drew Klonsky, Executive Director of Business Transformation at R/GA, “so it’s fitting that the first Make Good project should tackle an issue that is literally on our doorstep.”

Investigating the scale of the marine plastic pollution problem during a recent expedition to the far northern islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

The challenge, announced Monday, is split into three entry tracks, each designed to address a different part of the plastic pollution problem. Individuals or teams are welcome to submit ideas for any or all of the three tracks.

The first track is a call to REDUCE our consumption of single-use plastics. How do we drive behaviour change at the consumer or business level to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic in our society? Applicants are encouraged to submit ideas that use technology and storytelling as part of their solution.

The second track asks for ideas that help REVIVE our coastlines and the ocean by physically removing plastic. While not a complete solution to the problem, ideas in this category should focus on targeting plastic at the point of entry, as well as removing plastic that’s already entered the ocean.

The third track taps innovators to REDESIGN plastic entirely. “If your bathtub was overflowing, you wouldn’t immediately reach for a mop – you’d first turn off the tap”, says Sam Boynton, Senior Manager of Business Development & Partnerships at National Geographic, “That’s what we need to do with single-use plastic”. Applicants are encouraged to submit ideas that rethink the way single-use plastics are used in everyday products and services. Ideas should focus on exploring new material design or products and services enabled by zero waste business models.

Be The Change

The world is changing faster than many of us can keep up with; but there has never been a better time to be a curious person.

“Together, our goal is to stimulate new ways of thinking and to support young changemakers whose ideas could help address the challenges they’ve been unlucky enough to inherit,” says Drew Klonsky, “And maybe—we hope—they’ll come up with something amazing, something transformational.”

“Big, complicated environmental issues like plastic pollution rarely have an obvious fix”, adds Sam Boynton, “but we strongly believe that projects like Make Good can serve as a powerful means to identify, develop, and scale solutions that may otherwise have gone un-invented.”

Individuals or teams can submit their ideas until 15th May. A panel of experts from National Geographic and R/GA will select the strongest entries by 17th May, and those finalists will go on to take part in the Defy Plastic Innovation Lab – featuring inspirational talks, panel discussions, and one-on-one time with experienced mentors – at Semi Permanent Festival, Sydney 2019.

Does this sound like a challenge you’d love to accept? Make Good is for the curious, the makers, and the doers. It's for innovators, researchers, scientists, storytellers, and students alike. We hope you'll join us!


To find out more or to register, visit

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