Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Plastic waste bricks that are stronger than concrete, harnessing wave energy, Vans' digital broadcast station and more

Affordable Plastic Waste Bricks That Are Stronger Than Concrete

Materials engineer Nzambi Matee—the founder of Nairobi-based Gjenge Makers—not only invented a brick made from plastic waste that’s stronger than concrete, but she also set up the factory after losing patience waiting for government funding. The bricks are made from a blend of discarded high-density polyethylene (traditionally used for products like shampoo bottles), low-density polyethylene (plastic bags) and polypropylene (used for tougher items like buckets)—all of which is acquired for free. Costing just 850 Kenyan shillings (about $7.70) per square meter, the bricks are affordable to make and buy, and are five to seven times stronger than concrete—a remarkably wasteful material to create. Since 2017, Gjenge Makers has recycled 20 tons of plastic waste, created 100+ jobs and has plans to expand—again without assistance from the government. “I was tired of being on the sidelines,” Matee says. Read more at Reuters.

Image courtesy of REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Tasmanian Island to Harness Energy From Waves

The waters around King Island (in the Bass Strait off of Tasmania, Australia) will host a new technological unit that features an artificial “blowhole” to capture energy from the movement of waves. Funded by federal grants and private investors, this Wave Swell Energy renewable resource experiment will provide data about the system’s potential for expansion to nearby areas with adequate swells. Current research estimates that wave energy could take on as much as 11% of Australia’s energy needs by 2050. Read more about the technology and its application at The Guardian.

Image courtesy of Wave Swell Energy

Meet Massachusetts’ Future Official State Dinosaur

Massachusetts Representative Jack Patrick Lewis thought introducing a bill that named an official state dinosaur could get children excited about both science and the legislative process. Lewis partnered with researchers to select nominees—a process that turned out simpler than expected, “because there are only two species of dinosaur whose bones have been found in the state,” Noel Heim, a paleobiologist at Tufts University, shared with Atlas Obscura. On 4 February, Massachusetts residents voted between Podokesaurus holyokensis and Anchisaurus polyzelus—and the former, a slender-necked Jurassic creature discovered by geologist Mignon Talbot, won with more than 60% off the vote. The process isn’t official yet, but when it is, Massachusetts won’t be the only state to have a dinosaur of record. Read more about the prehistoric animal, and the process, at Atlas Obscura.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Mushrooms: Tantalizing, Transformative Fruiting Fungi

Inspired by her experimentations with Smallhold’s at-home mushroom grow kits, The New York Times writer Zoë Schlanger explores the comfort and delight millions have derived from the simple act of watching mushrooms emerge from waste. (Smallhold’s magic comes from the mycelium of wood-eating fungus buried in bricks of sawdust.) Schlanger offers instructions on caring for your countertop collection, expert insight into the mushroom economy and reportage that strives to summarize the mushroom’s expansive role in the natural world—from being the communicative thread between two trees and breaking down environmental waste to lending sweetness to a tomato and treating memory loss in mice. Read more of this ode at The New York Times.

Image courtesy of Chris Maggio for The New York Times

Vans Launches Livestream Broadcast Platform, Channel 66

Broadcasting live on weekdays from New York City, Chicago, Mexico City and Los Angeles, Vans’ new digital streaming platform, Channel 66, will host DJ sets and musical performances, talks and workshops, across cultural categories. Much like their live venues and event series, the Vans livestream network aims to inspire communities and support local artists and creatives. Friday nights will host marquee performances—and talent already booked includes Channel Tres, Vic Mensa, Serena Isioma, Vans pro skater Daniel Lutheran and more. Read more at Billboard or watch now at

Image courtesy of Vans

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning. Hero image courtesy of Chris Maggio for The New York Times