Anti-plastic pollution warrior chosen as Magsaysay awardee

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A French environmental activist was chosen as one of the youngest laureates at the Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Asia’s version of the Nobel Peace Prize, for his “crazy idea” to clean up rivers and expose plastic pollution through creative social media content.

Calling himself “one guy with a dream,” Gary Bencheghib said he started coming up with creative content to spread awareness about plastic pollution.

He was chosen by the foundation as an “Awardee for Emergent Leadership.”

“There’s no limit to age. You can be as young and old as you want. Our work has shown everybody can make a change. It just needs some thinking crazy,” Bencheghib said. “The more we think crazy, the more change will happen. Sometimes, it’s believing in yourself enough.”

Among the “crazy” videos he made was one documenting his brother Sam running across the American continent wearing recycled plastic shoes, and filming Rob Greenfield wearing every piece of trash he disposed of for 30 days.

Bencheghib also filmed himself in 2017 canoeing on the trash-choked Citarum River using a kayak made of plastic bottles.

His gimmick earned him a meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who launched a seven-year rehabilitation program for the river, which is known as one of the world’s most polluted.


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