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10 Imaginative Ideas From Genius Kids To Solve Our Global Waste Problem

How come we have Google Glass before a recycling remote control?

  • <p>Instead of forklifts moving garbage, what if they tortured people who didn't recycle? That's one way to incentivize curbside recycling, according to one Mini Inquisitor.</p>
  • <p>Does this water-powered car look oddly similar to Google's new self-driving car designs?</p>
  • <p>A golem for the 21st century.</p>
  • <p>They're already on the wheel. Why not recycle while they're at it? Welcome to the Hamtrix.</p>
  • <p>Not actually too far off from the idea of bio-digesters, big tanks of microbes that help process human waste.</p>
  • <p>This probably wouldn't be too great for Apple stock, but "factories wouldn't make lots of them," as Tereza, 12, of the Czech Republic, points out.</p>
  • <p>This kid is being far too pragmatic. Live a little! Get with the mind-controlled hamster crew. Now that's a pitch a VC probably hasn't heard before.</p>
  • <p>You know, 3-D and 4-D printing might leap a long way towards a remote control that can recycle any kind of junk into something new and useful in the future.</p>
  • <p>This is actually probably one of the most doable solutions the kids came up with.</p>
  • <p>Jennie, 10, suggests moving trash into video games, where it would then assume new forms. Her class probably hasn't covered the law of conservation of mass yet. Hopefully that's not too much of a bummer.</p>
  • <p>It's better for the environment than running someone else's laundry errands!</p>
  • 01 /11
    | The recycling inquisition

    Instead of forklifts moving garbage, what if they tortured people who didn't recycle? That's one way to incentivize curbside recycling, according to one Mini Inquisitor.

  • 02 /11
    | Water-powered cars

    Does this water-powered car look oddly similar to Google's new self-driving car designs?

  • 03 /11
    | Carnivorus, the trash-eating robot

    A golem for the 21st century.

  • 04 /11
    | Mind-controlled hamsters

    They're already on the wheel. Why not recycle while they're at it? Welcome to the Hamtrix.

  • 05 /11
    | Hungry Aliens

    Not actually too far off from the idea of bio-digesters, big tanks of microbes that help process human waste.

  • 06 /11
    | An indestructible cell phone

    This probably wouldn't be too great for Apple stock, but "factories wouldn't make lots of them," as Tereza, 12, of the Czech Republic, points out.

  • 07 /11
    | Recycling metal to make bridges

    This kid is being far too pragmatic. Live a little! Get with the mind-controlled hamster crew. Now that's a pitch a VC probably hasn't heard before.

  • 08 /11
    | A recycling remote control

    You know, 3-D and 4-D printing might leap a long way towards a remote control that can recycle any kind of junk into something new and useful in the future.

  • 09 /11
    | Send all of it to space

    This is actually probably one of the most doable solutions the kids came up with.

  • 10 /11
    | Virtual dumpsites

    Jennie, 10, suggests moving trash into video games, where it would then assume new forms. Her class probably hasn't covered the law of conservation of mass yet. Hopefully that's not too much of a bummer.

  • 11 /11
    | Trash TaskRabbit

    It's better for the environment than running someone else's laundry errands!

What if, instead of paying millions of dollars to export trash from cities to festering dumps in other parts of the country, we could export our garbage bags to virtual realities instead? And what if, instead of buying a new smartphone every few years before chucking it, we held onto indestructible ones for the duration of our lives?

These are just a couple of ideas generated by some 270 schoolchildren over the last three years. Massachusetts-based creative research firm and marketing company Latitude teamed up with schools in France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and the United States to ask the kids how they might deal with one of today's most intractable issues: waste.

Their answers, as one might expect, waver between brilliance and silliness. And for a generation in which some are raised on iPads before they learn how to use a toilet, many of the solutions are technology-oriented. But that also offers a valuable reflection on how technology is being deployed today. Some answers, like the trash-filled VR worlds, show us the limits of technological solutionism. Others, like recycling junk metal in order to make bridges, seem pretty useful. And maybe if they can't all be executed, there's still value to the more creative suggestions. What if we did fill up a virtual reality with the trash we generate in the real world? Would it make the digitally-preoccupied more aware of global consumption patterns?

Check out 10 of our favorites in the slide show above.

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 02 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 03 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 04 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 05 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 06 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 07 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 08 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 09 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 10 / Latitudeº / latd.com; 11 / Latitudeº / latd.com;