As a child in Mumbai, India, Angad Daryani developed asthma due to the polluted air. After studying engineering, Daryani developed an air purifier that captures carbon pollutants in a way enabling reuse of the carbon to make floor tiles.
The captured carbon is given to Carbon Craft Design, an Indian company that combines the carbon pollutants with stone waste from a quarry and a binding agent such as clay to make the tiles. Carbon and stone waste together are “upcycled” into a useful product at a marketable price. Also, the carbon emissions removed from the air will not leak back into the atmosphere.
Upcycling is recycling that adds value to the materials being recycled. Making sandals out of old car tires recycles the material but does not raise its value. Converting carbon pollutants and stone waste into tile is not only recycling the material but raising its value for the community. For this recycling process removes both waste products from the environment and also creates a useful commercial product at the same time.
Eco-choices that upcycle are especially creative. Existing air purifiers with removable air filters clean the air but also produce waste that has to be trashed. Daryani wanted to create an air filtering system that was marketable in an economy such as India’s but would also upcycle the pollutants being removed from the air. An affordable system that could be used to protect the health of people living in low-income communities.
Narasimha Rao, associate professor of energy systems at Yale School of Environment, confirms that: "Low-income groups, despite not producing a lot of air pollution indirectly because they don't consume much, are facing a disproportionate impact of air pollution from other sources.” Daryani’s new air purification system offers an eco-choice with multiple benefits including a healthier environment for low-income communities.
To be used widely Daryani’s carbon removal system has to be affordable and profitable. His eco-choice was not to make a fortune for himself but to make the air in Mumbai and elsewhere in the world healthier for those who now live in polluted environments but cannot afford to move.
Is there an eco-choice in your community that would cut air or water pollution? A community organization or a city agency already at work? Might you help mobilize community support for improving air and water quality while also upcycling pollutants?