Sanu Kaji Shrestha has given new meaning to the old saying. What others see as trash and litter, he sees as alternative energy.
In 2002 the retired World Bank official and solar energy hobbyist founded the Foundation for Sustainable Technologies (FoST). He knew there had to be a better way to find cooking fuel than to stand in line for three days. That was what he had to do when a shortage hit Kathmandu in 1995.
He also knew the toxic dangers of poorly ventilated cook stoves and the environmental damage caused by cutting forests for firewood. So he began researching ways of creating a supply of domestically produced, sustainable energy.
After Sanu Kaji Shrestha retired in 2001, he traveled extensively to study sustainable technologies in Europe and the U.S. One of his first inventions was a solar cooker he designed after the 1995 fuel shortage. But the idea for the ingenious invention that is turning trash into treasure came to him when floods clogged Kathmandu’s drains.
Shrestha took some of the pulp from waterlogged cardboard boxes that were stopping up the drains. He molded them in a tin can and created a briquette that could be used for cooking fuel.
Since that first briquette he has refined the process into a technology that people in poor and rural areas can easily implement. Persuading people to switch to waste fuel is not easy, but Shrestha is determined. With only a little funding from some American Rotary Clubs, he travels throughout Asia, training villages how to gather and separate waste and manufacture their own fuel briquettes.
His inspiring story is told in the video below as well as in a BBC documentary that was filmed in 2007.
And if you want to get to know the inspiring man behind the face smiling out of his photos, you can also find him on Facebook.