If you thought creativity only applies to a painting or piece of clay, you're wrong. If you thought that the world of NGOs only consisted of building schools and hospitals and helping with disasters, there is good news. Because there, too, very creative minds have come up with innovations that help humanity. They have found ways to do good in the world by applying innovation and originality to existing problems. Here are the 15 most creative examples:
The Shoe That Grows: Kenton Lee, an entrepreneur and founder of the nonprofit Because International, designed a shoe that can expand up to five sizes and last up to five years. The Shoe That Grows is designed to help children in impoverished areas who grow out of their shoes quickly, leaving them vulnerable to injury and disease. The shoes are distributed to children around the world through Because International's partners.
The Plastic Bank: David Katz, founder of The Plastic Bank, came up with a creative solution to the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean. The Plastic Bank encourages people in developing countries to collect plastic waste and bring it to collection centers, where it is exchanged for money, goods, or services. The plastic is then recycled and sold to businesses as "social plastic," with a portion of the profits going back to the collectors.
The Little Free Library: Todd Bol, who died in 2018, built a small wooden box that resembled a one-room schoolhouse and filled it with books. He placed it in his front yard in Hudson, Wisconsin, and hung a sign saying "Free Books." The idea caught on, and now there are more than 100,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide, promoting literacy and a love of reading.
The Empowerment Plan: Veronika Scott, founder of The Empowerment Plan, designed a coat that can turn into a sleeping bag for the homeless. The coats are made by people who have experienced homelessness themselves, giving them jobs and a sense of purpose. The Empowerment Plan has also developed a curriculum to teach financial literacy and life skills to the people who work there.
The Human Library: The Human Library is an enterprise that brings together people from different backgrounds and experiences to share their stories. The "books" are people who have faced discrimination or prejudice based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or other factors. The goal is to promote empathy and understanding between individuals who may have different perspectives on the world.
The Tabitha Foundation: Janne Ritskes, founder of The Tabitha Foundation, created a microfinance program in Cambodia that empowers women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The program provides small loans to women to start their own businesses, such as sewing or farming. The loans are repaid over time, and the program has helped thousands of families become financially stable.
The Good News Network: Geri Weis-Corbley founded The Good News Network in 1997 as a way to counter the negativity in mainstream news. The website publishes positive news stories from around the world that promote kindness, compassion and hope.
Random Acts of Flowers: Larsen Jay founded Random Acts of Flowers after he was injured in a serious accident and received flowers from friends and family that cheered him up. The company collects flower arrangements from weddings, funerals, and other events and turns them into bouquets that are delivered to hospitals and nursing homes. The program has spread to several cities and so far has delivered more than 340,000 bouquets.
The Ocean Cleanup: Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup to address the problem of plastic pollution in the world's oceans. The company developed a passive system that uses ocean currents to collect plastic waste, which can then be disposed of and recycled. The system has already successfully captured and removed plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Street Medicine: Street Medicine is a movement that brings medical care directly to people who are homeless. Medical professionals and volunteers set up clinics in parks, alleys, and other places where homeless people congregate. The program provides basic medical care, such as wound care and vaccinations, as well as referrals to more specialized care as needed.
The Extra Mile: The Extra Mile is a company that provides transportation for cancer patients to their appointments. The program pairs volunteer drivers with patients who need a ride to their treatment, so they get the care they need even if they cannot drive themselves.
The Solar Electric Light Fund: The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is a nonprofit corporation that provides solar energy to rural and impoverished communities around the world. SELF designs and implements solar energy projects that help improve access to education, health care, and other basic needs.
The Miracle Foundation: The Miracle Foundation is a non-profit corporation that works to improve the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children in India. It provides education, health care, and other basic needs to the children in its care, and supports their families and communities.
Little Dresses for Africa: Rachel O'Neill started Little Dresses for Africa after seeing a need for clothing for children in African communities. The program collects pillowcases and other materials and turns them into dresses for girls. The program has since expanded to include other necessities, such as hygiene kits and school supplies.
The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation: The Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that provides boats to children in rural communities in the Philippines so they can attend school. Many of these communities are inaccessible by land, and children often have to swim or wade through water to get to school. The boats offer them a safer and more efficient way to travel.
These are just a few examples of the many creative ways people have found to do good in the world.