Dr. Shikha Bhattacharyya is a dedicated environmental activist and social entrepreneur who has made significant contributions to reducing waste and promoting sustainability in her community. Her journey from health professional to dedicated environmental activist is rooted in her realization of the interconnectedness between human health and the environment. To create awareness about waste and its effects on human health, she started a nonprofit organization called reTHink, Inc.
reTHink maintains four community gardens, a permanent headquarters with class space, a Zero-Waste Store and a plastic upcycling facility. The Zero-Waste Store provides eco-friendly and package-free products to the community.
Shikha oversees reTHink and all its programs in addition to being a committed educator. She leads the Super Diggers Salsa Club, which engages children from underprivileged neighborhoods in gardening and cooking classes, imparting valuable skills and knowledge about sustainable practices. Dr. Bhattacharyya is also a co-founder of the youth-led group EARTHlings, collaborating with local government and educational institutions to promote climate education and sustainable practices.
Shikha has been recognized for her work and awarded accolades including the Community Educator Award by the City of Terre Haute, the Green Lights Award by Earth Charter Indiana and the Hoosier Resiliency Heroes recognition from the Environmental Resiliency Institute at Indiana University.
Cash started working on river conservation for the Tennessee River when he was 7, after learning it was one of the most polluted with microplastics in the world. Now at age 14, Cash has removed more than 30,000 pounds of trash from the river, helping to improve the drinking water of more than 5 million people.
Cash runs a recycling program, collecting aluminum cans from local businesses and deferring waste from the landfill. This scrap metal is sold and raises funds for more projects. Cash also makes monofilament bins to place along the river at public boat ramps and state parks. He has placed more than 100 bins at state parks in Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan and Florida. From these bins, he has collected more than 2,000 miles of fishing line that otherwise could have affected river habitats in inland states. This fishing line is collected and sent offsite, melted and made into fish habitats.
Cash has not only been an active participant but also a leader of countless community cleanups and plastic pollution education sessions; he is also in active discussions with elected officials about environmental public policy.
He also wrote a children's book about river conservation to inspire kids to make a difference. He is paving the way for future generations to make a positive impact on the environment. His passion for nature, especially oceans, waterways and sharks, inspires everyone he meets, regardless of age.
Lifecycle Building Center (LBC)
Lifecycle Building Center is focused on construction material reuse in Atlanta and nationwide. Its mission is to reduce solid waste disposal, promote resource efficiency, stimulate economic development and empower citizens to improve their own built environment. Since 2013, Lifecycle Building Center has played a key role in diverting thousands of tons of building materials from the waste stream. The organization has redefined how a community can divert construction materials from landfills and put them to good use in new projects; reusing local materials reduces embodied carbon emissions compared to a new alternative.
The core of LBC is the Reuse Center & Store in Southwest Atlanta, which accepts material donations and redirects them back into the community through resale to the public at deep discounts and donations to nonprofits.
Between its deconstruction program, job training and nonprofit partnerships, LBC has established itself as an industry leader in Atlanta. Recognized by the EPA, Department of Energy and the City of Atlanta for its work, Lifecycle Building Center has played a vital role in establishing the ReBuildATL Coalition to empower disadvantaged communities in Atlanta's westside through job training and employment opportunities.