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Iowa Company 'A Million Waves' Makes Prosthetic Hands from Ocean Plastic

John Schneider
Plastic that's washed ashore on a beach

It takes 30 plastic water bottles to make a recycled plastic prosthetic hand. Crazy, right? 

A few years ago, Chris Moriarty woke up in the middle of the night with an idea. Two weeks later, A Million Waves was born. The company, founded by two Iowans and based in Seattle, 3D prints prosthetic limbs made from repurposed ocean plastic. A entirely volunteer run operation, they have a network of more than 2,000 people who can print limbs around the world to distribute to those in need.

"If we have this unlimited, unwanted resource, and we have all these people who have needs, why doesn't someone put those things together?" says Moriarty about the thinking that got the project started. 

During this Talk of Iowa segment, Moriarity talks with host Charity Nebbe about the project, how it works, and who benefits. We also hear about the company’s most recent work in Syria with Doctors Without Borders. 

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Lindsey Moon served as IPR's Senior Digital Producer - Music and the Executive Producer of IPR Studio One's All Access program. Moon started as a talk show producer with Iowa Public Radio in May of 2014. She came to IPR by way of Illinois Public Media, an NPR/PBS dual licensee in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Wisconsin Public Radio, where she worked as a producer and a general assignment reporter.
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa