by Zhe Sun, China, ELP 2015
fig-1-300x300_2.jpg Figure 1. Portrait of Bernis
The first participant I interviewed was Bernis Yonin Trejos Cunningham. He was the first one I came to acquaint with among all the ELP participants because he was the second one to arrive in our floor. (I was the first one to be checked in.) We started to talk to each other instantly and thus I came to learn quickly that he is a lawyer from Nicaragua, maybe a legal adviser in more proper speaking.
As for his work, he has been leading a large environmental project and a corporation mainly on resource recycling. Although he is an expertise in law, he can also conduct integrated activities that demand knowledge of environmental resources, management, economy and sociology, because he is willing to accept any kinds of possible challenges to prove himself. In general speaking, his organization can get profits through rearranging the used resources as well as wastes, and maximizing their potential value.
His work has experienced an evolution of four main stages till current situation. The first stage is the rudimentary stage, which can be summarized as one simple phrase – “collect and sell”. He and his colleagues recycled trash, especially plastic and paper, and then sold them to the professional industries because the technicians working there are experienced at treating the renewable trash. “This was the hardest one in the four stages, because people do not understand us.” He said that to me when interviewed, with emotions full of yearning flowing on his cheek.
The second stage can be abstracted as “preliminary treatments”. Extra treatments were done by himself (here “himself” refers to Bernis and his group). As you may know, reusable resources are more valuable if it’s degenerated to its prime status, just the same as the fact in biology that a stem cell can differentiate into any kind of functional cell, and thus be of high price for its development potential, while mature cells can never be guided into other types of specialized cells with different functions. So Bernis has led his colleagues to learn the methods of avoiding the wastes being valueless.
fig-2-300x169_2.jpg Figure 2. Bernis at Golden Gate Bridge
Classification is the first step for preliminary treatments because classifying the trash according to their properties can make it easier for the waste handler to reuse or even rebuild them. For example, plastic bags can be made from more than one material such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Polyethylene (PE) and Polystyrene (PS). If the plastic bags are collected together without any systematic classification, then it will cost the handler a lot of extra work to sort them out because recycling and rebuilding can never be finished efficiently when various kinds of chemical matters are mixed altogether. On such condition, Bernis has learned the classification criteria himself at first, and then tried to propagate the awareness to the local residents in order to make it more convenient for recycling, and to gain more profits. Besides, pulverization is another preliminary treatment because small pieces of waste, like glass, are in their “prime status” waiting to be reused by chemical technicians.
The third stage is named “local selling”. Bernis says that they are not satisfied with the “preliminary treatment” stage. They need to do something more not only to win more benefits, but to accomplish something new and challenging, excavating as much value from the waste as possible. So, they have attempted and finally succeeded to produce some simple but pragmatic articles for daily use like basins (wash basins), flower pots, clothes hampers and so on, and then sold them in the local area. After the selling activities proved to be going on smoothly, sales of these “treasures” transformed from the wastes have been executed domestically.
The final stage is “worldwide trading” or “exporting”. These articles made from varieties of renewable materials are being sold all around the world, and thus producing lots of wealth for the CAC (Cunningham of Associate Corporation). As the CEO and legal consultant of CAC, Bernis is not just accumulating wealth for the organization, but he is also creating wealth for all of humankind. By exporting his articles made in an environmentally friendly way, he is also spreading his ideas of 3R: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, to the whole world.
fig-3-300x200_2.jpg Figure 3. Bishawjit when addressing presentation
Another participant I interviewed was Bishawjit Mallick, a research associate and lecturer from Bangladesh. He has been doing research on the consequences of climate change, like cyclone typhoons, especially in Bangladesh. Migration caused from the natural disasters is also done, so as to keep the research complete and comprehensive.
To conclude, these two are successful in their own fields and both of them are my exemplars. Their research is interesting and meaningful. I hope to achieve my self-value by making contributions to the environment, and ultimately the human society.