After we extended our knowledge about plastic, we wanted to raise the awareness of the public to the disadvantages of current solutions for plastic waste and to encourage reduction of plastic consumption. Using social media, such as Facebook, twitter and Instagram, we reached thousands of people by posting daily news about environment and plastic waste. For example, we shared a post regarding waste that was discarded by travelers in the river Jorden, encouraging followers to pay attention and keep the environment clean. We also posted updates about the progress of our project, upcoming events and answered people's questions and concerns.
In order to raise the awareness, several articles about our project got published both in local and national newspapers. We also used these article as an opportunity to talk about synthetic biology and about how iGEM's attributes to science and research. These articles helped us to further spread our project's importance, and to reach people outside of our local circle. For example, 'Haaretz', Israel's oldest newspaper, , published an article that described the environmental concerns and our research goal to develop a cure to plastic waste. This article was published both in Hebrew and English editions that get exposure in many countries and got many responses.
For example, Queen Noor Al Hussein twitted about the article and expressed support on our project.
To expand awareness, we also participated in a radio show talking about environmental issues. South Radio Channel interviewed us about the current situation regarding plastic waste, treatment, and the unmet need of biosynthetic solution.
Using the gaming platform and youtube cannels, we made a fun computer game and animation video in order to increase the exposure of our project around the world. The computer game demonstrates our idea as a simple task, which a bacteria eating plastic parts by shooting them. Because the mission is not that easy, we made the game in a medium-high level of difficulty. If you lose the game, a picture of ocean full of plastic waste is shown. We sent the game to all iGEM groups along with our project description and ask the players to spread it to their friends. We also uploaded the game to our website and our social media accounts that can be found here
Every year, our university hosts a 'Green Campus' competition that search for the most innovative idea that will help make a cleaner environment. This year, we decided to apply with our PlaticCure project. We presented our work and won the best project among the B.Sc. students. We were honored to get the support and recognition from our university and decided to use the best project award for funding the PlastiCure's activities.
The animation video we created presents our project in attractive and simple way. The purpose of the video was to make the scientific part of our project, accessible to the public, especially for people that are not familiar with synthetic biology. Furthermore, we use this video as an opportunity to show how scientists can solve world-wide problems with synthetic biology tools.
In order to engage and educated the general public coming from diverse backgrounds and different ages, we participated and conducted four events. In each of those events participated hundreds of people who came to learn of our biodegradation of plastic waste and were encouraged to recycle and use plastic wisely. We explained about synthetic biology, protein engineering and advance biological tools that we used in order to evoke the crowd curiosity towards science.
"Osim Rehov / Making a Street" event:
On Wednesday May 25th, we participated in a community project called "Osim Rechov", in which the citizens of Be'er-Sheva, old and young, gather together to improve the communal space and the street's appearances. The PlastiCure team created together with students, children and adults from the neighborhood, an environmental sculpture using plastic bottles. We collected plastic bottles from our neighborhoods in Be'er-Shva during a whole month that was used to create colorful flowers that decorated the street. In this activity, we managed to use plastic waste and make it into an environmental permanent art.
In addition, we taught the children about plastic pollution and our solution by making an easy and fun game. We made a quiz in which the children had to answer questions about plastic facts. The children learned facts like the slow degradation of plastic and the damage it causes to marine life.
We also raised awareness to the plastic pollution among the "Osim Rechov" participants by passing brochures with information on our project and its purpose. We invited students into our lab and showed them tools, devices and some of our results to engage them in our project.
Board of Governors Meeting:
On Sunday June 5th, we participated in a night event in honor to the University's Board of Governors. At the event, we set up an exhibit booth and discussed our project with University's Board of Governors and accompanied members that came to this event from around the world. Many people came to listen and learn about the acute plastic pollution and plastic accumulation all over the world. We presented our solution and its advantages by playing a trivia game with the guests asking general questions about Be'er-Sheva, the university and plastic. In addition, we handed out recycling bags to encourage recycling.
"Lyla lavan / white night" event:
On Thursday August 25th, we took part in "White Night" event. This event happens once a year, allowing the public celebrate in the streets of Be'er-Sheva all night long, enjoying concerts performed by Israeli artists, shows, and booths set up by artists, venders and special projects.
We build a 'drop the bottle' game in the shape of our bacterium, P.putida. The game attracted both young and old, trying to drop the plastic bottles into the bacterium's mouth and win a prize. We aimed to attract people with the game and evoke their curiosity about plastic. Our game allowed us to interact with people of all ages and explain about plastic pollution, solutions and recycling.
As a new law was recently legislated that obligates the stores to charge for plastic bags forbidding them to hand free of charge plastic bags, we decided to hand out recycling bags with our PlastiCure logo as a prize, knowing they would be useful. Furthermore, this prize is expresses our support to the new law and will help to educate the public to be more environment friendly.
"Science with a beer" event:
On Sunday October 25th, we organized a "Science with a beer", a public environmental event in the local "Manga" bar". The concept of the event is well known to the Israeli public, where an expert lecturer talks about the field of interest. We hosted Ms.Yael Cohen-Paran, a member of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) to talk about her social-public activity in the field of environmental protection. Ms. Cohen-Paran is one of the founders of the "Green Movement" party and is the head and founder of "The Israeli Forum for Energy" that aims to advance the use of sustainable energy in Israel. In 2013, Cohen-Paran was chosen by "The Marker" post for one of "Israel's 100 most influential people".
Some 100 people participated in "Science with a beer" event that included cold beers and a lecture on her 20 years of work, devoting to the subject of environmental protection. The talk was followed by a discussion about audience environmental concerns. We learned about environmental hazards in the Negev area that we weren’t aware of and what we can do as citizens to help solve environmental issues.