Martial arts legend Jackie Chan is motivating younger generations to change the way humanity approaches environmental challenges such as plastic waste.
In a joint project with National Geographic, the actor is starring in a three-part documentary series, Jackie Chan’s Green Heroes, where the Rush Hour-star gets to collaborate with environmental pioneers on projects to raise awareness of protecting the environment.
Jackie Chan’s own concern about plastic waste comes from his experience of film sets, which contributes to a huge amount of trash — often tens of thousands of plastic water bottles.
In the first episode, which aired on National Geographic channel in Asia on Earth Day, Jackie Chan teams up with entrepreneur, Arthur Huang, to show the world what the new face of recycling can look like with the help of their co-creation – Trashpresso – the world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant, which transforms discarded plastic bottles into architectural tiles.
Trashpresso is a unique factory on wheels, which can turn waste plastic into multi-use tiles on-site – even at the top of the world – the Tibetan Plateau.
Under Jackie’s supervision, the local children revel in helping operate the Trashpresso, including sorting rubbish and adding plastic to this revolutionary machine.
Over the years, Jackie Chan has built a solid friendship with Arthur Huang, a structural engineer from National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers, who is renowned for his innovations in recycling post-consumer waste.
The entrepreneur founded Miniwiz – a global leader in post-consumer recycling technology that has designed everything from a recycled plastic, multi-tasking USB charging device for EKOCYCLE to Nike’s Air Max packaging and a concept store in Shanghai constructed from waste materials.
Arthur Huang has even furnished Jackie Chan’s properties with items made from secondary materials – including Pentatonic chairs made of recycled bottles and packaging waste, a wall system made of recycled CDs, and tiles made from recycled plastic.
For the documentary, the team took Trashpresso to Zadoi, a Sanjiangyuan county sitting at the 4200m Qinghai Tibetan plateau. The area, which includes the Sanjiangyuan reserve, a key source of China’s three major waterways — the Yellow, Yangtze and Lancang rivers — has been facing pollution issues around plastic waste.
After overcoming technical challenges from the high altitude and cold climate, the team worked with local governments, NGOs and kids to collect plastic waste, which Trashpresso turned into construction tiles for use in walls or flooring.
The action hero said that he wanted to use his fame to spread the message, that everyone could be a “green hero” if they just act.
Jackie Chan said: “Don’t do good just when you are told by others; just do, even if it’s just a small action like picking up trash.”
The actor is hoping to take Trashpresso to future movie sets, to turn the local plastic waste into construction materials and build schools.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea