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4-min read

Macinley Butson, the Winner Of Stockholm Junior Water Prize, Talks about Water Conservation

My research and invention has grown from the problems which I saw around me, my interests at the time and wanting to help other people.

Updated:September 6, 2019, 5:16 PM IST
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Macinley Butson, the Winner Of Stockholm Junior Water Prize, Talks about Water Conservation
My research and invention has grown from the problems which I saw around me, my interests at the time and wanting to help other people.
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Macinley Butson is an 18-year-old inventor from Wollongong, NSW. She recently won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, 2019 and we interviewed her to get to know more about her invention and water conservation. Here's what she had to say about it.

1. Congratulations on winning and taking a huge step for humanity in forwarding the cause of water conservation, firstly we would like to ask you, how you came up with the idea and what went towards creating the project and what is it all about?

The SODIS Sticker stemmed originally from another project which looked at providing safe drinking water for developing communities through chemical and biological sanitation. I began my research in providing safe drinking water for developing communities in year 9 where I first learned about the extent of this issue in geography class, and I have has a passion for water ever since! For my original project, it aimed to provide drinking water for developing communities and the "solar disinfection" (or SODIS) process was employed, however, I noticed a gap in the currently used techniques. The UV exposure wasn't able to be measured and thus, there was no way of determining if the water was biologically safe. So, I created the SODIS Sticker to be able to determine this as a safeguard for this process which is already used by millions around the world.

2. Your concept is an innovative ultraviolet sticker to measure large UV exposures for solar disinfection of water which is a really innovative idea, what would your message be to young Indian children who are embarking on creating their own inventions with regards to water sanitation and conservation? What should they look out for and how should they go about creating their own innovative solutions?

I would say that if you are passionate and can persevere anything is possible! My research and invention has grown from the problems which I saw around me, my interests at the time and wanting to help other people. Any other young people wanting to solve problems in water simply need to look around them, find a problem and start trying to solve it! Obviously it isn't an overnight process, so start with the basics and finding out everything you can about the area. Then start simple experimentation and slowly the project will grow. Everyone has the capability to make a difference all you need is the passion and perseverance!

3. At such a young age you have led a remarkable life already, tell us a little bit about growing up, what were your first few inventions and what made you pursue working towards social and environmental solutions for the world?

As a child I was incredibly curious, I would always ask my parents the question "why?" - I was very eager to discover the secrets of the world which were in everything. This natural curiosity grew into a passion for STEM and eventually I wanted to use this to help other people. Some of my first inventions looked at solar panels, delivering medicine to children and even making a pair of adjustable tint sunglasses! My projects have always been inspired by things around me at the time, so when I learned of the extent of the global water crisis in geography class I couldn't not do something! And ever since I have done work in this sector to try and bring about both social and environmental change.

4. Through your project you are inspiring people all across the world, could you describe how this feels and who would you say are some of your role models who inspired you to tackle such important social issues?

This feels absolutely amazing and very humbling, my favourite quote is by Albert Einstein which says "I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious". And this is how I view myself, it is not that I am special, but simply I have been curious and followed this passion to help others! It is not that I have had one singular role model, but rather it is in the world around me where I find my inspiration. In a troubling WHO statistic, or news report this is where I draw my determination and perseverance to help others from - the injustice in this world makes me continue.

5. We at Network 18 in association with Harpic have just launched a campaign called Mission Paani (water) to create a mass movement in India to conserve water, could you tell us why people should join in pledging their support towards conserving water?

Water is vital, it is the one thing which all of humanity shares. It goes beyond language, culture, laws and any other possible differences - we all rely on it for survival. And that is why it is so important. We must all work together to improve and solve the water issues of this world because if we don't we simply won't be able to continue. I think everyone must pledge to do their part whether this is little or big and we must support each other in these times!

6. Lastly, if you had to leave young innovators in India who are trying to follow in your footsteps with a message, what would that message be?

I have two pieces of advice for any young innovators out there who want to make a difference. The first would be to never let your age be a defining factor, just because you are young doesn't mean you can't do amazing things. In fact sometimes it will be your greatest asset! And second of all, don't think outside of the box - get rid of the box completely!

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