This is recycling at its best: Containers to Clinics (C2C), a nonprofit that provides primary healthcare to underserved women and children, retrofits portable shipping containers into mini-health clinics – complete with equipment, medicines, and medical staff. In one 8-by-20-foot metal box, C2C designers fit a small consultation room, small laboratory, office for staff, and storage and inventory space. Wow. From these mini-clinics (minics?), local medical professionals provide vaccinations, treatment for infectious diseases, safe pregnancy and delivery, and health education to those who otherwise have little or no access to them.

I’m all about the women’s health issues (not just because women make up half the population but because their health is inextricably, intimately linked to the health of the other half…women’s health is EVERYONE’s health, period.). Of 8 Millennium Development Goals, 3 are dedicated to women or children. MDG3: promote gender equality and empower women; MDG4: to reduce child mortality; MDG5: to improve maternal health. Now old shipping containers are helping do all three – not to mention MDG6 (combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases) and MDG7 (ensure environmental sustainability).

They remind me of something slightly more frivolous but also ingenious: those dumpster swimming pools in New York City. Dani Simons, coordinator of the dumpster-to-pool project, describes the project as “taking something we’re used to seeing in one particular way and really inventing them and using them in this totally creative and new way.” Shipping containers, dumpsters – what else could we reinvent?

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