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Human Effort Planet Care Your Home

83: Biodegradable contraceptives

Problem:

Today’s world population is 7.6 billion, and the United Nations projects that by 2100, the world population will be 11.2 billion. Can the Earth’s resources feed this many people?

Solution:

Contraceptives.


Alongside ethical family planning, sterilisation and vasectomy, the contraceptive should be regarded as a planet-protecting measure. One solution is the condom, a sheath-shaped barrier device, used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.

Early contraceptives were biodegradable. The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (1500 BC) describes a vaginal plug of lint, ground acacia branches and honey. Condoms, made of silk, were not always effective.

The ancient condom was found in Lund, Sweden, and is believed to have been made and used around 1640 A.D. It is made from pig intestine, although before latex, condoms made of sheepskin or intestine were not uncommon. Condoms made of dried sheep intestines were used by Roman soldiers to protect themselves during long campaigns away from home.

Neither rubber condoms which became available in 1855, nor latex condoms since the 1920s are biodegradable. About six to nine billion are sold a year. New innovations continued to occur in the condom market, with the first polyurethane condom, branded Avanti and produced by the manufacturer of Durex, introduced in the 1990s.

With the advent of AIDS (Acquired Immune Defiency Syndrome), the protective condom as mass-produced by Durex became even more popular. Worldwide condom use is expected to continue to grow: one study predicted that developing nations would need 18.6 billion condoms by 2015.

Biodegradable, latex condoms damage the environment when disposed of improperly and they also contain preservatives and hardening agents to make sure the rubber can withstand a fair amount of friction, making it harder for the condoms to break down in the landfill.

According to the Ocean Conservancy, condoms, along with certain other types of trash, cover the coral reefs and smother sea grass and other bottom dwellers. The United States Environmental Protection Agency also has expressed concerns that many animals might mistake the litter for food.

The only biodegradable condom is made of a biological material, lambskin, made from the intestinal membrane of a lamb as used by the Romans, hence non-Vegan.

One such is the “Trojan”, a brand name of condoms and sexual lubricants manufactured by the Church & Dwight Company of Ewing Township, New Jersey. Although biodegradable it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. (churchdwight.com)

There are other methods. In 1951, the oral contraceptive pill was invented by Gregory G. Pincus and Min Chuch Chang, biologists at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Research, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, in collaboration with Dr John Rock, obstetrician-gynaecologist of the Brookline Reproductive Clinic, Boston and again in collaboration with Dr Carl Djerassi of the Syntax Corporation, Mexico, who discovered the progestogenic agent, 19-Norsteroids. The US Food and Drug Administration approved “the pill” for public use in 1961, after extensive trials in Puerto Rico and Haiti.

The downside are the hormones in the pill, either progestin or a combination of progestin and synthetic estrogen, known as endocrine disruptors: women who take the pill end up passing some of them through their urine.

If they make it through the wastewater systems, the hormones can flush into rivers and streams altering fish reproductive systems and damaging ecosystem dynamics. The minipill is only made with progestin, a man-made form of the hormone progesterone made by the body.

Then there is the intrauterine device (IUD). During the late 1950s these were made of plastic with a nylon string. U.S. physician Howard Tatum’s innovation of the copper IUD in the 1960s brought with it the capital ‘T’ shaped design used by most modern IUDs. Together, Tatum and Chilean physician Jaime Zipper discovered that copper could be an effective spermicide and developed the first copper IUD, TCu200.

Not only does this contraceptive have incredible 99-plus % effectiveness, but it also requires just one small plastic T—either wrapped in copper or holding synthetic progesterone hormone—to prevent pregnancies for 3 to 12 years.

Physical waste is nearly nonexistent. Copper IUDs use up less than one tenth of an ounce (0.3 gm) of copper. Hormonal IUDs release small quantities of synthetic progesterone directly into the uterus, meaning that most of the hormone stays exactly where it is needed. In short, for the Planet, IUDs are the lesser of the three evils.

What you can do: When family planning, think carefully of your SOLUTION for our crowding Planet.

Tomorrow’s Solution: cooling down the coral reefs

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

78: Human-based compost

Problem:

When people die, usually one of two things happens to their bodies: either they are buried below ground in caskets, or they are cremated, reduced to bone fragments by intense heat.

Cemeteries take up space and crematoria emit carbon dioxide. Both cremation and conventional burial leave just over a metric ton of carbon per body.

Solution:

Naturally composting human cadavers


Zoroastrians had a different approach: to preclude the pollution of earth or fire, the bodies of the dead were placed atop a tower and so exposed to the sun and to birds of prey.

The roof was divided into three concentric rings: The bodies of men are arranged around the outer ring, women in the second circle, and children in the innermost ring.

Once the bones had been bleached by the sun and wind, which can take as long as a year, they were collected in an ossuary pit at the center of the tower, where they gradually disintegrate and the remaining material, with run-off rainwater, ran through multiple coal and sand filters before being eventually washed out to sea.

White Eagle Memorial Preserve (WEMP) in Klickitat County, Washington was founded in 2008 so people could be buried in natural surroundings without embalming, caskets or headstones. It is certified as a Conservation Burial Ground by the Green Burial Council, a national non-profit certifying body.

WEMP spans 20 acres (8 ha) set within 1138 acres (461 ha) of permanently protected oak and ponderosa forest, meadow and steppe on the edge of spectacular Rock Creek Canyon near the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Deer, coyote, cougar, eagles, wild turkeys, steelhead in the canyon creek, western grey squirrels, rattlesnakes, the occasional bear or lynx live and die freely.

Paris has opened its first green cemetery at Ivry-sur-Seine. Part of the already-existing cemetery has been dedicated to eco-friendly burials, meaning that Parisians concerned about the lasting ecological impact of their funerals can now rest in peace.

The cemetery will do away with gravestones, replacing them with wooden markers that the city of Paris has said it will replace every ten years. Coffins and urns must be made out of biodegradable materials, either cardboard or unvarnished local wood, and bodies must be clothed in natural biodegradable fibres. They cannot, of course, be embalmed with formaldehyde.

Katrina Spade was studying architecture when she learned about livestock composting and wondered if the some practice could be applied for humans.

She earned a BA in anthropology from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, then turned her focus to sustainable design while attending Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. At Yestermorrow, Spade helped to build a Pain Mound – a compost-based bioenergy system invented by Jean Pain that can produce heat for up to 18 months.

She first drafted her plans for a ‘human composting’ facility in 2012 while earning her Master’s degree in architecture and design, which she completed in 2013. In 2014, she was awarded a climate fellowship from the Echoing Green Foundation.

This enabled her to start a 501c3 nonprofit called the Urban Death Project involving an urban crematorium (bodies go in, remains come out), but using the slower, less carbon-intensive means of “organic reduction,” or composting. Spade alternately describes this process as “cremation by carbon.”

To research the process of cadaver decomposition into soil, Spade collaborated with Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a Professor of Sustainable and Organic Agriculture at Washington State University. They developed a carbon-and nitrogen-heavy mixture of wood chips, alfalfa and straw.

They found that natural organic reduction turns bodies into two wheelbarrows full of soil within 30 days. In 2017, Spade closed the nonprofit and started Recompose in Seattle, Washington, as a public-benefit corporation. In 2018 she was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship

In November 2018, Washington State Senator Jamie Pedersen pre-filed a bill to legalize this human composting, also known as “recomposition.” This law, passed on Tuesday May 21, 2019, made Washington the first state in the United States to allow the practice. The Act also legalized alkaline hydrolysis, the dissolving of bodies in a pressurized vessel with water and potassium hydroxide, or lye, a process which is already legal in 16 states.

Recompose estimates that one metric ton of CO2 is saved for every person who opts to compost a body instead of burning it. This is equivalent to taking a gas-powered car off the road for about three months.

Spade should start composting by 2021 hosting 750 bodies annually, 20 to 25 at a time. Spiritually and emotionally, there are those who are against this system. They are happy to have their ashes scattered, but do not wish to use the compost of a loved one to improve plant growth. (recompose.life)

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Bob Hendrikx and a team at the Delft University of Technology have developed a living coffin made from mycelium, the vegetative part of fungi that takes the form of a mass network of white filaments referred to as hyphae.

The Living Cocoon helps the body to ‘compost’ more efficiently, removes toxic substances, and produces richer conditions in which to grow (new) trees and plants. The first funeral with a mycelium-based coffin took place in September 2020.

What you can do: When you die, consider leaving the lowest carbon mortal footprint possible

Discover Solution 79: eco-friendly concrete.

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Materials Your Home

74: Clothing from recycled plastic bottles

Problem:

The world is awash in discarded plastic bottles.

Solution:

Recycle plastic bottles into fabric thread for clothing.


Thread International produces both yarn and fabric, depending on the need. The company was formed after the 2010 Haiti earhquakes, when founder Ian Rosenberger travelled to Haiti looking for ways to help the devastated people of the island nation.

Its manufacturing process is simple. It heats up plastic waste collected by the Haitians, which is then extruded through a fine shower head-type machine, which then cuts up the result. The method reduces energy consumption by 80% compared to making virgin polyester, but the cost to clients is roughly 10% higher.

The impact in Haiti has been dramatic. Thread International supports about 300 recycling jobs on the island and, in 2015, sent 440,000 lb (200,000 kg) of plastic fiber to the U.S., where it is blended with cotton to produce canvas, jersey and denim products.

Working with a US$1.5 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Thread International was able to move from their East Liberty office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania into a larger workspace in Homewood.

While the company has found success partnering with brands such as Nike and Timberland since its initial founding. In February 2019, Timberland launched a Thread-infused collection (boots, duffel bag, backpack) and Thread signed up Kenneth Cole, another major brand.

Thread’s move to Homewood, provides the company with space to train and employ staff from the local community to stitch and assemble the bags, creating jobs to help battle unemployment in Homewood while also growing their eco-friendly business. Thread has several full-time employees on the ground in Haiti and Honduras to coordinate with local partners.

The company is also looking to expand its operations to Guatemala and Southeast Asia. According to Thread’s website, they have shipped more than 200,000 lb (100,000 kg) of recycled plastic out of Haiti since 2010.

France

In France, Thomas Huriez of Romans-sur-Isère (Drôme) is making denim jeans using sea litter collected by the French fishermen of the Mediterranean, during fishing trips on the coast.

They are encouraged to continue to clean up the beaches and their surroundings, which are full of polyethylene-type plastics, which then serve to create the fabric for the pants in a mono-material. Huriez had already launched Modetic, a shop specializing in the sale of ecological, equitable, ethical, and local products, when in 2013 with his brother Huriez switched to trousers and shoes.

They called their brand Jeans Infini 1083, 1083 km. being the longest distance that can be traveled in France by road number between Menton and Porspoder, north of Brest.

Not only are the trousers made from 100% recycled plastic, they are 100% recyclable and returnable. The life cycle of Jeans Infini begins at the company Antex, which manufactures Seaqual ™ yarn in Spain (80 km from the French border). Infini then dye this 100% recycled yarn, in Pont-de-Labeaume, they weave it in Coublanc, then they make the jeans in Marseille.

Once bought, when the client’s jeans reach the end of their life, they will return it to Infini for free and get back their 20 € deposit. Their old jeans will then be crushed to be re-transformed into yarn and 1083 jeans again and so on ad infinitum. (1083.fr)

USA

Another much bigger manufacturer, Wrangler, owned by Kontoor, has introduced denims dyed with foam, a revolutionary technique that uses 100 % less water than conventionally-dyed denim and also reduces energy use and waste by more than 60 % compared to the conventional denim dyeing process.

Wrangler’s Indigood technology reflects in the brand’s global sustainability goals, which include: conserving 1.5 billion gallons (5.5 billion liters) of water at owned and operated facilities by 2020; using 100% preferred chemistry throughout their supply chain by 2020; powering all owned and operated facilities with 100% renewable electricity by 2025; and sourcing 100% sustainable cotton by 2025. (kontoorbrands.com)

What you can do: Buy this clothing and show it off to your friends.

Discover Solution 75: rain-making across China

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Your Home Energy

73: Detergent-free clothes-washing machine

Problem:

Water is an increasingly precious commodity and many washing machines still require large amounts for washing/rinsing as well as  the use of chemicals harmful to the environment.

Solution:

Detergent-free clothes-washing machine.


In 1924, when firms such as the Savage Arms Corporation of New York presented the electrically-powered wash/spin-dry clothes washing machine to the world, neither its energy and water consumption, nor the harmful effects of chemical detergents on the ecosystem, were taken into account. Today, the eco-efficient bio washing machine has become of primary importance.

There have been many developments. Japan Ace, based on research at Nihon University produced a detergentless, ultrasonic bubble-cleansing domestic washing machine in 1985, but the main breakthrough was made by Stephen Burkinshaw at the University of Leeds focusing on the structure of nylon polymer beads.

He discovered that nylon was the best material for absorbing tiny particles, and together with his team of researchers came up with the concept of using nylon polymer beads to remove stains from clothes.

When the wash cycle is completed, the beads automatically return to a holding area inside the machine and are ready to be used again for the next wash. These beads can be used for up to a thousand washes and are then collected to be recycled and exchanged for new one.

From 2009, Burkinshaw and his team collaborated with Stephen Jenkins and William Westwater at Xeros Technologies in Catcliffe, South Yorkshire, England to commercially produce the beads which they called XOrb and a 55 lb (25 kg) capacity waterless washing machine by the end of 2011.

According to Xeros, its technology uses 90% less water than the conventional washing machine. While a conventional front-loading washer uses about 20-25 gallons (75-95 liters) of water, the Xeros Washing Machine is estimated to use as little as one gallon of water.

The machine is also projected to save consumers up to 30% for operating costs in electricity and water. Xeros then presented their XDrum technology to other washing machine manufacturers. Hotel groups such Hilton, Hyatt, or Hampton Inn acquired Xeros to wash their laundry.

In March 2018, Xeros acquired Gloves Inc., providing personal protection equipment cleaning, inspection and repair services in the Miami metro areas.

At CES 2018, Xeros unveiled XFiltra to go with XOrb and XDrum technologies XFiltra is designed to help capture the synthetic fibers from fleece and other clothing that are making their way from the wash into oceans. Appliance makers would still have to design around the pump and filter.

The biggest commercial washing manufacturers in China and India both signed up, while Dongguan Crystal Knitting and Garment, a subsidiary of Crystal International Group, the world’s largest apparel maker by volume, are trialling the technology.

In 2019 Xeros signed up with Indian home appliance manufacturer IFB Industries Ltd. in Kolkata to make and sell X technology in India by from 2020-2021. Xeros, a platform technology company that works on reinventing water intensive industrial and commercial processes, believes the reason the Indian market is important for its water-saving technology is that the country is under extreme water stress.

According to the NITI Aayog, more than 600 million Indians face acute water shortages. The Xeros tech can also save water in the tanning industry and, having entered the market itself, Xeros signed a deal which will see at least one Mexican producer convert its re-tanning operations.

What you can do: When you replace your washing machine, check out the Xeros range.

Discover Solution 74: clothing from recycled plastic bottles

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Planet Care Human Effort Your Home

71: Citizen Convention for Climate (CCC)

Problem:

How to get politicians to take action on climate change?

Solution:

Citizen Conventions


In November, 150 French citizens, male and female, were drawn by lot and given eight months to discuss and form their solutions for the Planet.

On Sunday June 21, 2020, La Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (CCC) presented French President Emmanuel Macron with nearly one hundred proposals around five axes relating to the fight against global warming: produce and work, shelter, feed, move, consume.

Objective: a reduction of “at least 40% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030”. These include making energy renovation of 20 million buildings compulsory by 2040, quadrupling the amount of the bicycle fund to 200 million Euros per year, which would finance bicycle paths, increasing the bonus for hybrid and electric cars by 25%, the deployment of short food circuits, and the curbing of overconsumption.

In response, the President pledged an additional €15 billion ($16.9 billion) to help address the issue, although not all the solutions have been adopted

On a European Union level, the month before, Pascal Canfin, chairman of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament, proposed an alliance for a green recovery.

This movement, which brings together together 80 ministers, MEPs, CEOs, NGOs & Trade Unions joined by around thirty CEOs (Ikea, Unilever, Danone, Saint-Gobain, H & M, etc.) In her Green Deal, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen promised a “green, digital and resilient future”.

What you can do: Join or create a citizen’s convention in your country

Discover Solution 72: eco-friendly sandblasting

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Energy Your Home

70: Better baseboard heating

Problem:

Traditional domestic heating systems, burning fossil fuels, using heat pumps and/or solar energy are using the most inefficient heat distribution systems in the real consumption place, the room.

By creating an unbalanced distribution of hot and cold air, this in turn is detrimental to human health and is giving the highest energy consumption in the room and hereby the highest loss in the transportation of the heat to the room.

Solution:

Baseboard or skirting board central heating system.


In 1974, Erik Christian Vilhelm Keldmann, a mechanical engineer from Odense, Denmark improved the efficiency and energy consumption of central heating and air conditioning systems.

His ‘’heat embracement’’ skirting board systems he called Elpan for an electrical system and Wanpan for a hot water-heated system.

Both systems involve interconnecting module elements in such a way that the apparatus can extend along all the walls of the room.

The key in his invention is the balance in each module between heat delivered by radiation and convection. The created even comfort temperature, all over the living zone of the room, is created by the all embracing system by about 65 – 75 % radiation and approximately 25 – 35 % convection (circulating air ).

This created the experienced comfort temperature constant from floor to ceiling, which is the condition for having the highest thermal comfort for the lowest energy consumption.

Keldmann’s Elpan/Wanpan system which he patented in 1978, could be easily mounted by persons without special education.

It is today, after 45 years, still an elegant timeless designed product, the world’s smallest heating system giving freedom in furnishing even small rooms.

Keldmann also innovated an eco-friendly silent cooling system he called Norpan, where panels hung from the ceiling, over the office desks, with chilled water circulating in and out of the panel.

The human body radiates heat up to the panel and the panel sends back chilled air to cool the body. This is cooling for human beings at the lowest energy consumption.

Keldmann’s innovations threatened to disrupt the steel-based traditional radiator industry.

The Elpan – Wanpan systems proved the basis for disruption in a two year comparable test in four homes made by the biggest Danish newspaper “Berlingske Tidende – Boligen”, proving energy savings of 20 – 37 %., the system was then accepted.

But despite the world’s need for heat-saving systems, Elpan-Wanpan has not yet disrupted old fashioned traditional heating systems.

Erik Keldmann is still the president and owner of Keldmann Innovation A/S. With his son and partner Troels, they are now workings on new inventions to add value to Elpan/Wanpan all embracing heating systems.

Discover Solution 71: the French connection

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Materials Your Home

69: Cell phone components, nanocellulose

Problem:

Approximately 150 million mobile phones are discarded each year in the USA. Although cell phones have the highest recycling market of any electronic material only 10% of these are recycled while the rest may end up in a landfill, but more likely to end up in desk drawers or garages.

Solution:

In recent years, researchers have demonstrated that nanocellulose, which is made by breaking wood fibers down to the nanoscale, can be a viable support material for a variety of electronic devices, including solar cells.


John Rogers, a professor of materials science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, developed the method for transferring small amounts of semiconducting material from a large wafer to the nanocellulose surface.

In 2015, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led by Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, collaborated with researchers in the Madison-based U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), to innovate wood-based semi-conductor chips, by making the gallium arsenide electronic components in a similar way but then using a rubber stamp to lift them from the wafer and transfer them to a new surface made of nanocellulose.

The challenge was to produce a smooth-enough surface that also had the capacity for thermal expansion. The final product evolved from the concept of breaking wood down further from individual fibre, at the micron stage, to the nanoscale.

The result is a material which is very strong, transparent, flexible, and, most-importantly, biodegradable, cellulose nanofibril (CNF).

An epoxy coating is added to the surface to ensure a smooth layer and eliminate the hydroscopic nature, both of which were previously barriers for using wood-derived materials. This reduced the amount of semiconducting material used by a factor of up to 5,000, without sacrificing performance.

Their results also show that a transparent, wood-derived material called nanocellulose paper is an attractive alternative to plastic as a surface for flexible electronics.

In conventional chip manufacturing, electronic components such as transistors are made on the surface of a rigid wafer made of a semiconducting material such as silicon.

In two recent demonstrations, Ma and his colleagues showed they can use nanocellulose as the support layer for radio frequency circuits that perform comparably to those commonly used in smartphones and tablets. They also showed that these chips can be broken down by a common fungus.

In 2019, researchers at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) created a new concept of thermoelectric material, published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science (“Farming thermoelectric paper”).

It is a device composed of cellulose, produced in situ in the laboratory by bacteria, dispersed in an aqueous culture medium containing sugar and carbon nanotubes, producing the nanocellulose fibres that end up forming the device, in which the carbon nanotubes are embedded.

The intention is to approach the concept of circular economy, using sustainable materials that are not toxic for the environment, which are used in small amounts, and which can be recycled and reused.

Tomorrow’s solution: a healthier overall central heating system

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Materials Your Home

68: Biodegradable cell phone components

Problem:

Approximately 150 million mobile phones are discarded each year in the USA.

Solution:

Biodegradable cell phone components.


Although cell phones have the highest recycling market of any electronic material only 10 % of these are recycled while the rest may end up in a landfill, but more likely to end up in desk drawers or garages.

Jeremy Lang of Pela Case of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada, using Flaxstic, a bioplastic made from flax straw has developed a cell phone case comprised of 35 – 45% biobased content (plant-based plastic and flax straw) and 55% non-renewable, biodegradable materials.

As a boy, Lang discovered that flax farmers were in the practice of burning their fields after a harvest, in order to prevent the strong flax straw from getting caught up in and ruining their farming equipment. He realized that if that flax straw was so strong, it could certainly be used for something.

Elsewhere Sprint and Samsung have each launched the Reclaim, a biodegradable handset that is 80% recyclable and comes with a 40% corn-based plastic cover. The Reclaim ditches a paper manual for a virtual one and comes with a charger that is more energy-efficient than standard chargers.

Sprint’s phone is nearly free of commonly used toxic materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardant. And the company is donating US$2 from each sale to the Nature Conservancy’s Adopt an Acre Program.

Ideally the phone would be completely free of all toxic materials and have a solar charging option. But these are improvements that Sprint and Samsung will probably make in the future. Samsung has already developed a separate solar-powered phone.

Alongside the case, there is the screen. The Australian National University’s (ANU) Research School of Engineering created a semiconductor with both organic and inorganic materials that can convert electricity into light with a very high efficiency.

Engineers have developed an ultra-thin semiconductor featuring one-atom-thick organic material with two-atom-thick inorganic materials to make a new type of electronic screen.

The compound is incredibly thin and is just one atom thick. The carbon and hydrogen base makes up part of the semiconductor developed by the Australian team.

The inorganic compound is just two atoms. The super-thin biodegradable semiconductor would be ideal for screens and other displays on cell phones. The thin, flexible surface could also be used in an entirely new series of high-performance electronics. (eng.anu.edu.au)

But then there are the thousands of transistors inside a cell phone. The tiniest transistors are now less than 30 nanometers long. You could fit 16,000 of them, side-by-side, in the period at the end of this sentence.

For the internal components, Simon Vecchioni, who recently defended his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Columbia University, is using synthetic biology to produce DNA nanowires and networks as an alternative to silicon device technology.

Vecchioni ordered synthesized DNA from a company, used it to create his own custom BioBrick, a circular piece of DNA, and inserted it into the bacterium E.coli, which created copies of the DNA.

He then cut out a part of the DNA and inserted a silver ion into it, turning the DNA into a conductor of electricity. His next challenge is to turn the DNA nanowires into a network.

The DNA nanowires may one day replace wires made of valuable metals such as gold, silver (which Vecchioni only uses at the atomic scale), platinum and iridium, and their ability to “self-assemble” could eliminate the use of the toxic processing chemicals used to etch silicon.

As silicon transistors (the devices that carry the 1s and 0s of computers) start to bump up against the limits of physics in terms of size and density, the evidence so far points to carbon nanotubes being a faster and more energy efficient option.

Processors (lots of transistors packed together) made from carbon nanotubes could help computing take the next leap forward. This would be by far the most advanced chip made from any emerging nanotechnology that is promising for high-performance and energy-efficient computing.

After the first carbon nanotube (CNT) transistor was created in 1998, researchers made progress by building other circuit elements such as logic gates.

In 2010, Desirée L. Plata, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Duke University, designed a research experiment to determine how chemical bonds are built during nanotube synthesis, with the goal of improving the manufacturability of CNTs and minimizing the environmental impacts of this technology.

Her study was published in 2010 in the American Chemical Society’s online journal ACSNano. But a computer with an all-nanotube central processor remained elusive.

Researchers from Stanford University said that they had successfully built a carbon nanotube computer and their research paper published on September 25, 2013 in the journal Nature. They named their prototype Cedric.

Six years later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, computer scientist Max Shulaker and a team have built a 16-bit processor (the more bits, the more complexity), functional enough to run a basic program, producing the words “Hello, World! I am RV16XNano, made from CNTs”.

In this new study, researchers used rolled up sheets of carbon, each a single atom thick, to form 14,000 carbon nanotube field-effect transistors (CNFETs) – up from a previous attempt in 2013 that managed 178 transistors. The researchers reckon these chips could be viable within five years. (eecs.mit.ud)

Discover Solution 69: cell phone components made from wood

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Carbon Capture Your Home

66: Recycling bubbles for brew

Problem:

There is too much CO2 in the atmosphere.

Solution:

Take CO2 out of the atmosphere and use it in making craft beer.


CO2 is one of the five key ingredients in beer making, along with hops, malt, yeast and water.

Josh Hare, founder and president, Hops and Grain Brewing in Austin, Texas, has set up Earthly Labs with Amy George to commercialise CiCi, a plug-and-play carbon capture technology for craft brewers.

The craft brewing industry represents one small scale opportunity with nearly 20,000 emissions sources representing 500 million metric tons or more annually.

Brewers also use CO2 to carbonate and package their beer, commonly purchasing it from a third-party provider, which creates a closed loop recycling opportunity.

CiCi is uniquely designed to capture carbon dioxide waste from smaller sources such as businesses, homes, and transportation that make up more than half of all carbon dioxide emissions.

The beer-making process emits carbon dioxide (CO2), and yet small breweries still need to purchase commercial CO2 to carbonate and package their beer.

Earthly Labs’ goal is to capture one billion tonnes of CO2 as fast as possible. (craftbrewingbusiness.com)

Discover Solution 67: carpooling

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Your Home Planet Care

60: Carbon calculators

Problem:

Many people would like to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but have no easy way to measure them and guide their actions.

Solution:

Portable CO2 calculators


In 1996, William E. Rees and his PhD student Swiss-born Mathis Wackernagel at the University of British Columbia, Canada published their solution for calculating this in a book “Our Ecological Footprint”, now available in English, Chinese, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, and Spanish.

Wackernagel went on to set up a Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank with offices in Oakland, California; Brussels, Belgium, and Geneva, Switzerland. The think-tank is a non-profit that focuses on developing and promoting metrics for sustainability.

For calculating personal carbon footprints, several online carbon footprint calculators are now available.

These websites ask you to answer more or less detailed questions about your diet, transportation choices, home size, shopping and recreational activities, usage of electricity, heating, and heavy appliances such as dryers and refrigerators, and so on. The website then estimates your carbon footprint based on your answers to these questions.

Here are just some:

Do you know of other carbon calculators? Use the Comments to let us know.

What you can do: Keep on checking your own carbon footprint. 

Discover Solution 61: Iceland’s carbon fix

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Your Home Planet Care

53: Planet-oriented board games

Problem:

The manufacturing of a board game is not environmentally friendly and it may only concentrate on abstract concepts such as “Sorry” or “Snakes and Ladders”.

Solution:

Board games that involve players in cleaning, repairing and protecting our Planet.


In 1996, following the success of his first board game Bioviva, Jean-Thierry Winstel of Montpellier, France decided to create a range of question-and-answer-themed educational games for family and children that would raise awareness of respect for nature in an eco-design approach.

They must be exclusively made in France, so reducing CO₂ emissions related to their shipment and linked to an eco-design approach i.e. paper, cardboard and FSC-labelled wood and plant-based inks, respectful of people and the environment.

This approach, unique in the publishing sector, allowed Bioviva to constantly improve its production methods and to reduce its ecological footprint ever more. The games are offered at attractive prices, in order to make them accessible to the greatest number.

One popular product is a board game called “Nature Challenges” where children Tomorrow’s the incredible diversity of animals and try to protect them on 5 continents. Added to their board and card games, Bioviva launched “Nature Challenges” books.

Bioviva has produced more than 2.5 million copies of “Nature Challenges”, translated into various languages and sold in 13 countries.

In February 2018, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Nature Challenges card game Bioviva announced the launch of the Défis Nature club, a 12-page promotional magazine including gifts (cards, posters) and contests.

Alongside Bioviva, other games encourage players to focus on our Planet. “Earthopoly” is inspired by the “Monopoly” board which since 1935 has been translated into 47 languages, played in 114 countries and has sold more than 275 million copies.

To play Earthopoly, a player chooses their token (an object from nature) and starts at “Go Green.” Players increase their property value by collecting Carbon Credits and trading them in for Clean Air. But try to avoid getting sent to the Dump!

Like Bioviva’s “Nature Challenges”, not only is Earthopoly a game about the earth it is entirely eco-friendly itself as the game pieces are either made by nature or completely recyclable, the ink is vegetable oil-based, with the game box made from 100 % recycled Chip board.

All the paper is recyclable and is made with 10 % recycled pulp that comes from a mill that purchases pulp that is monitored by a responsible third party forest management group. Green Power was purchased for the electricity used to manufacture the paper for the box (renewable energy in the form of wind, hydro, and biogas).

While TDC Games produces “The Green Game” for 2 to 6 players, with its coasters growing actual wildflowers, Global Horizons Ltd. produces “Envirochallenge – The Ultimate Challenge for the last Endangered Species MAN.”

Ethica”, based on the principles behind the collaborative ethical investment group Reseau Financement Alternatif, lets up to 27 players assume the role of an investment banker or venture capitalist and see how well their green intentions stand up in the world of international finance.

Wildlife Web”, inspired by Pokémon card games, created by Montana-based author and educator Thomas J. Elpel, is a dynamic ecology strategy game that engages players to experience what life is such as for a red-tailed hawk or yellow-bellied marmot foraging for food, raising young and defending against predators. It gets players’ animals to cooperate or compete with one another.

What you can do: Acquire and play Planet-oriented board games at home.

Discover solution 55: how recycled bottles can make eco-cement

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Materials Planet Care Your Home

51 Bird protecting glass

Solution 50 in a 1-a-day series of 366 creative, hopeful ideas to clean up, repair, protect our planet:

Problem:

Billions of birds are killed annually following collision with the large panes of glass used in modern buildings.

Solution:

Bird protection glass with an ultraviolet-reflective coating. Birds can see the coating, but it is virtually invisible to humans.


In the late 1990s Dr. Alfred Meyerhuber, a German attorney with a personal interest in birds and science read an article in a magazine about orb weaver spiders and their use of stabilimenta. Orb weaver spiders, common worldwide, build their distinctive webs using strands of silk with UV reflective properties.

Meyerhuber was good friends with Hans-Joachim Arnold, the owner of Arnold Glas, a manufacturer of insulated glass products headquartered in Remshalden, Germany. As a young business owner, Arnold was motivated by technical and environmental challenges and looked for ways to set Arnold Glas apart from its competition.

When Meyerhuber brought the orb weaver spider’s strategy to his attention, Arnold was intrigued. Despite initial resistance by the board of directors, he convinced the company to undertake the necessary research and put his company to work developing a product that would have the same UV-reflecting qualities as spider silk.

Arnold Glas’s Head of Research and Development, Christian Irmscher, led the technical product development of ORNiLUX. The coating was developed together with technicians at Arnold Glas’s sister company, Arcon, located in Feuchtwangen, Germany, which specializes in thin low-e and solar coatings for architectural glass.

The companies tested many different coating types and patterns. The researchers found that a patterned coating (versus a solid coating) made the contrast of the glazing more intense: the coated parts reflected UV light while the interlayer sandwiched between two layers of glass absorbed the UV light. The two functions together enhanced the reflective effect.

Although the specific pattern of a spider’s web inspired the solution, Irmscher and his team had to design a unique pattern for the window coating in order to make the application process practical.

After patenting the transparent UV coating in 2001, Arnold Glas introduced ORNiLUX SB1 Bird Protection Glass, its first commercial product using the technology, in 2006. The vertical lines of UV-reflective coating used in this product were sometimes perceptible but very subtle and not visually distracting.

Three years later, the company introduced an improved second-generation product, ORNiLUX Mikado. The name refers to the crisscrossed UV pattern of the design and comes from the German name for the game of pick-up sticks.

The new pattern and improved coating of Mikado is nearly invisible to the human eye. Independent pre-market testing by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, Germany, demonstrated that ORNiLUX windows are highly effective at protecting against bird strikes.

The first project in the USA to use ORNiLUX was at the Center for Global Conservation at the Bronx Zoo and was completed in 2009. The architects specified ORNiLUX SB1 for the entire building, but in the end it was used in only a corner conference room that had the biggest risk of bird strikes.

An ongoing monitoring program has noted a dramatic difference between the portions of the building with and without the bird-safe glass.

A year later, Munich’s Hellebrunn Zoo used ORNiLUX Mikado in the design for a new outdoor polar bear exhibit. Due to the zoo’s location near the Isarauen Nature Reserve, which harbours many wild kingfishers, bird collisions were a significant concern.

The zoo had other outdoor glass enclosures with a history of bird strikes, and previous attempts to use hawk silhouettes and bamboo plantings to protect the birds had failed.

ORNiLUX Mikado was used for the polar bear enclosure and pelican house. Zoo officials were pleased to find a solution that did not block visitors’ views of the animals and noted in the first months after it was installed that no birds had collided with the glass.

Ongoing testing of existing and new configurations continues with American Bird Conservancy’s Flight Tunnel Test Facility located at the Carnegie Museum Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, PA.  Additional tests are conducted with a flight tunnel facility in Rybachy, Russia.

At the American Institute of Architects Expo in June 2019, Arnold Glas debuted new oversize production capabilities for its bird-safety glass, ORNILUX. It is now offered in a maximum size of 126 x 472 in (320 x 1200 cm).

What you can do: Tell local architects and builders about Ornilux.

Discover Solution 52: How to stop birds crashing into solar panels

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Materials Your Home

39: Biodegradable plastics from shrimp, manure and more

Problem:

There is too much plastic in the world that takes too long to break down.

Solution:

A compostable plastic that dissolves instantly in hot water and breaks down over a period of months on land or at sea.


In Indonesia, Kevin Kumala has taken a local and cheap root vegetable called the Cassava and combined its starch with vegetable oil and organic resins to make a compostable plastic.

The inventor claims it leaves no trace of toxic residue, which he demonstrates by drinking the dissolved plastic.

In 2014 Kumala founded Avani Eco, further innovating a material made from corn soy and sunflower seeds with which he has made ponchos. The strength of Avani Eco’s bioplastic is comparable to that of petrochemical-based plastic.

Fungus

Javier Gomez Fernandez, assistant professor and a team at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), researching into biodegradable building options investigated a fungus-like class of eukaryotes known as oomycetes.

Their structures combine cellulose with the second-most abundant polymer on the planet: chitin, an artificial polymer made from chitin, a fibrous substance which is extracted from shells of crustaceans such as shrimps.

Shrimps

Chitin is biodegradable polymer that is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and biocompatible.

Inspired by this newly studied species of oomycetes, a team at  Singapore Univeristy of Technology and Design mixed small amounts of chitin with cellulose in an industrial dough mixer to create an organic, biodegradable composite they call Fungus-Like Additive Material (FLAM).

FLAM can be 3D-printed or cast, as well as manufactured using common woodworking techniques (e.g. sawing, drilling, polishing…) and also combinations of them. (www.epd.sutd.edu.sg

Researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have developed a material called Shrilk, an artificial insect cuticle made from chitin (a polysaccharide) and fibroin (a protein from silk).

Simply mixed together, the materials have mechanical properties that reflect the average of each material and are two times stronger than the stronger component. Shrilk could one day be used to suture wounds, and serve as scaffolding for tissue regeneration. (www.wyss.harvard.edu

Although shrimp shells are part of the waste problem in Egypt, in collaboration with the Nile University in Egypt, bioengineers at the University of Nottingham engineered chitin into biodegradable shopping bags, as well as new food packaging material to extend product shelf life.

Other materials are being developed. Scientists from the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies at the University of Bath have developed a renewable plastic from a chemical called pinene found in pine needles.

Manure

In the Netherlands, Jalila Essaïdi and her team have found a way to turn manure into a bioplastic they called Mestic, which derives from the Dutch word for manure (‘mest’).

Essaïdi was approached by the agricultural sector of the Dutch province Noord-Brabant to help find a way to deal with the surplus of the manure. An annual report in 2016 showed that a total of 190,600 tons (172,900 tonnes) of phosphate was produced in the Netherlands, of which 99.7 million kg. originates from cow manure. www.jalilaessaidi.com

Discover solution 40: Disposable cups made from gourds, avocados and others

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38: Biodegradable bottles

Problem:

Humans produce almost 20,000 plastic bottles every second, according to a report by The Guardian, while a study by Oceana.org  finds that as many as 34 billion plastic bottles per year end up in the ocean.

Solution:

Biodegradable plastics made of corn and other plants.


In 1989, Pat Gruber working for commodity grain processor Cargill Inc., set out to turn corn into plastic. Gruber ascertained that if he fermented corn sugar with the right lactic bacteria and distilled it, this might be a route to a commercially viable biodegradable plastic.

By 1994, Gruber had progressed to a test factory to learn how to adjust the process to change the performance of the polymer for different applications.

That was enough to persuade Dow Chemical Co. to collaborate as a partner.

In December 1997, two years and one month after Cargill Dow was officially established, work began on building a US$3 million plant in Blair, Nebraska to produce NatureWorks PLA (poly lactic acid) polymer.

The plant was up and running by early 2002, with the capacity to produce an annual 154,000 tons (140,000 tonnes) of NatureWorks PLA made from 40,000 bushels of locally grown corn per day.

Gruber’s polymer was soon being used for making items such as bottles. In 2002, a manufacturing facility in Blair, Nebraska began operations.

It is the world’s first and largest PLA facility and it supplies NatureWorks’ Ingeo biopolymer. The Blair facility increased its Ingeo nameplate capacity and in 2013 NatureWorks sold 1 billion lb (454,000 kg) of Ingeo. www.natureworksllc.com

In 2009 Coca-Cola invested millions of dollars in creating its PlantBottle™, which uses PET plastic that is combined with up to 30 % of plant-based material made from sugar cane juice and/or molasses.

The company sought verification from third-parties such as Imperial College, London, where a biologist performed a life-cycle analysis of the bottle and reported that the packaging reduced the CO₂ impact by 12% to 19%.

A Michigan State University professor also confirmed PlantBottle’s green benefits. Coca-Cola has since distributed more than 15 billion of the breakthrough bottles in 25 countries, including parts of the U.S., Canada, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Norway, Sweden Denmark and Chile. This saved 347,000 tons (315,000 tonnes) of CO₂ between 2009 and 2015.

In 2011, Coca-Cola took the first step in this collaborative innovation approach by licensing PlantBottle technology to H.J. Heinz for use in its ketchup bottles.

More than 200 million 20 oz (500 gm) packages, which feature “talking labels” asking “Guess what my bottle is made of?” reached store shelves and foodservice counters in the U.S. and Canada.

The next generation of plant-based PET packaging – or PlantBottle 2.0 – began in December 2011, when Coca-Cola invested in three leading biotech companies, Virent, Gevo and Avantium, to speed the commercialization of a PET plastic bottle made entirely from plants.

That year the company did launch a 100% plant-based bottle using a different drop-in plastic. It introduced a single-use bottle made from 100% bio-based high-density polyethylene for its Odwalla juice. The material was sourced from Brazil-based chemicals and plastics company Braskem.

In June 2012, Coca-Cola also teamed up with Ford, Heinz, Nike and Procter & Gamble to form the Plant PET Technology Collaborative.

Together, these brands have been working together to pursue a 100% renewable polyester plastic solution made entirely from plants for use in everything from clothing and footwear, to automotive fabric and packaging.

Coke is partnering with The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to create guiding principles for sourcing agricultural feedstocks used in PlantBottle packaging.

In 2015, at the Expo Milano World’s Fair, Coca-Cola showcased the world’s first demonstration-scale PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based materials. The bottles used BioFormPX paraxylene produced by Coca-Cola partner Virent.

By 2018 PlantBottle technology had been used in more than 60 billion packages worldwide, although Coca-Cola was accused of “greenwashing” by a Danish local environmental group called Forests of the World who claimed that the company’s marketing of PlantBottle was exaggerated and misleading.

In July 2019 the Company committed to reducing the carbon footprint of “the drink in your hand” by 25% by 2020, compared to 2010 levels.

This includes the first-ever goal targeting for the entire Coca-Cola end-to-end value chain, cutting CO₂ across its manufacturing processes, packaging formats, delivery fleet, refrigeration equipment and ingredient sourcing.

Coca-Cola has calculated that this will directly and indirectly prevent the release of 220 million tons (20 million tonnes) of CO₂ into the atmosphere.

Tomorrow’s solution: Shrilk

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Mobility Human Effort Materials Your Home

33: Muzzicycles

Problem:

Bicycles are the most energy efficient form of transportation in the world, but the manufacturing of metal frames and components is energy and carbon intensive.

Solution:

The Muzzicycle. A bicycle made of recycled plastic to replace at least some of the 2 billion in the world that are made of steel and  aluminium.


In 1998, Juan Muzzi, a Uruguayan artist and mechanical engineer living in Sao Paulo, Brazil began research into PET and nylon materials including plastic bottles, shampoo containers, car dashboards and kitchen trash cans as a source of raw material, to make a plastic bicycle. It would not rust, be sturdier, more flexible and cheaper.

By 2008, Muzzi had found a way to integrate his molded frames with wheels, mudguards, pedals and seats, but it took four further years of testing to market the product to secure the seal of quality from INMETRO (Brazil’s National Institute of Metrology, Standardization and Industrial Quality).

By then a plant had been built which could take in 17,000 tons (15,400 tonnes) of recycled plastic every year using it to produce 10,000 Muzzicycles per month in every colour of the rainbow.

With 200 plastic bottles going into each frame, the process uses far less energy than is required for making traditional metal frames, saving well over 5 tons (4.5 tonnes) of CO₂ emissions, although a steel bicycle frame will lasdt a lifetime.

In 2020, Do Bem, manufacturer of fruit juice made a promise to remove from the environment 100% of the amount of long-life cartons that it produces per year, approximately 44 million.

This has included the donation of 20 Muzzicycles to four ngos in Rio de Janeiro: “Champion Hug”, “Maré Development Network”, “Irmãos Kennedy Community Center” and “Yes, I am from the Middle”.

Additionally, while working with Teto and Ecolar, the polyaluminium used to line Do Bem’s fruit juice cartons would be recycled into glasses, tiles and floors – the last two items will be used in the construction of sustainable housing organizations.

The production of a tile, for example, takes 500 boxes. Each house has 20 square meters and is made with 63 sheets and 16 recycled tiles, which requires about 40,000 cartons

In 2012 after discovering the Muzzicycle, Juan Carlos Seguro of Medellin, Colombia set up Eco Muévete Seguro making and marketing his bikes as Re-ciclas, or Re-cycles. Seguro then partnered with a local recycling firm, Kaptar, which operates a network of bottle collecting machines that link to smartphone applications.

Bottle collectors, by depositing bottles in the machine, earn points that can be spent on benefits such as subway tokens and movie passes. Kaptar’s machines take in 2,000 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles every day.

Now there is a waiting list of at least 2,500 people to buy a recycled frame bike that is custom made in Sao Paulo. Juan Muzzi is now planning to manufacture recycled child’s bikes and plastic wheelchairs.

Discover solution 34: the billion tree tsunami

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

32: Bread into beer

Problem:

44% in bakeries, delicatessens and supermarkets. When it is deemed stale and can’t be sold it is simply thrown away.

Solution:

Turn uneaten, ready-to-be-thrown-into-the-dumpster bread into ‘can-I-please-have-a-pint’ craft beer.


Tristam Stuart, the founder of Feedback based in London, England campaigns against food waste.

In December 2009, he launched a food waste campaign by organising “Feeding the 5000” in London’s Trafalgar Square in which 5,000 people were served free curry, smoothies and fresh groceries from cast off vegetables and other food that otherwise would have been wasted.

Tristam heard about a brewery in Belgium which uses discarded bread to make craft ale. There is nothing new about this process. Kvass (from rye bread) although typically not strongly alcoholic has been around in Russia, Ukraine etc. for at least 5 centuries.

After refining the recipe with Hackney Brewery in London, Stuart then contracted with Hambleton Ales in North Yorkshire to produce it in quantities.

In 2016, Tristam began selling Toast Ale at London restaurants, online and through a growing number of distributors. Using roughly one slice per ½ UK pint (284 ml) bottle, his team of three recycled 3.6 tons (3.3 tonnes) of bread in the first 15 months.

The beer is made when surplus bread is sliced and mashed to make breadcrumbs, then toasted and brewed with malted barley, hops and yeast to make a quality pale ale with a distinctive taste of caramel notes that balance the bitter hops, giving a malty taste similar to amber ales.

All profits go straight to Feedback. Toast Ale subsequently expanded nationally in the UK, and internationally to the USA, South Africa, Brazil, Iceland and Sweden.

It also open-sources a recipe for homebrewers. The company has received global press coverage and won 11 industry awards, while Tristam Stuart was named at the World Economic Forum in Davos as one of 30 leaders to inspire ambition and mobilise action to reduce food loss and waste globally. Cans of Toast Ale bear the slogan “Here’s to Change” and describes the contents as among other terms “tropical” and “zesty”, “planet-saving. ” (toastale.com)

Discover solution 33: the Muzzicycle

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Planet Care Your Home

7: Perfect Sense • a wearable air quality sensor

Problem:

Some routes taken by schoolchildren to and from their schools are more polluted than others.

Solution:

In April 2020, Ava Garside, 13-years’ old, in Year 9 at the Allerton Grange School, Leeds, England created a graphene-based, wearable air quality pin-badge sensor which collects data and detects the air quality of wherever you are, helping to detect the cleanest and healthiest routes to work or school.

For her “Perfect Sense solution”, Ava was named the Junior winner of the Youth Industrial Strategy Competition, a national STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) initiative coordinated by the government of the United Kingdom and the British Science Association.

She was also awarded the UK Space Agency SatelLife competition. She has since been working alongside scientists at the University of Manchester to develop the prototype further, but like many of the solutions presented on this website, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed things up.

Discover solution 8: aircraft that generate electricity.

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Carbon Capture Materials Your Home

6: Kaalink • printer ink from car exhausts

Problem:

Fossil-fuel gasoline automobile exhausts pollute and damage health in crowded cities.

Solution:

A machine called Kaalink for recycling their soot to generate ink for printers, has been invented by Anirudh Sharma of India. Between 2013 and 2015 Sharma co-led activities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab India Initiative consortium to help shape self-organized, design-led innovation in India.

During a visit to his Indian home in 2013, Sharma noticed that his friend’s clothing was stained by air pollution. After experimenting for more than a year to see whether pollution rejected by vehicles was a resource recycling idea, Sharma realised that his invention would not help India if he set up office in the US.

So, in 2013 he returned to India and, along with three researcher friends, co-founded Graviky Labs in Bengaluru. Initially when they were experimenting with a new technology, there was no set guidance available in the market.

They conducted several experiments to understand the optimum technique for harvesting pollution from fossil fuel combustion sources. By 2016, the team started to retrofit Kaalink machines to car engine exhaust pipes in Bengaluru.

They were able to capture approximately 95 % or 1.6 kg of the particulate matter pollution without inducing back-pressure. Kaalinks were manually and individually installed by drivers, and after about two weeks of city driving were traded in at a Graviky Labs.

The machines could also be fitted to motorboats and to chimneys.

Graviky then set about converting the captured raw material into a black ink they called Air-Ink. An ounce of ink (28 gm) is produced by about 45 minutes of exhaust. Sharma and his team then built a prototype to test their ink’s printability.

They assembled a Nicolas’ ink shield with Arduino interfaced with their soot-catcher pump design. This shield allowed them to connect a HP C6602 inkjet cartridge to their Arduino2015 turning it into a 96dpi print platform.

It only used 5 pins which could be jumper-selected to avoid other shields. For the project they had to widen the holes of the cartridge to let the ink out, since the size of the particles in Air-Ink is much larger than the fine industrial ink.

Conventional black ink is one of the most consumed products in the industry. Most of this printing ink is produced in factories with complex chemical procedures.

Companies such as HP/Canon make 70 % of their profits by selling these cartridges at 400% margin. Air-Ink presented a far more economic option.

In August 2016, Graviky Labs, in partnership with Tiger Beer, Heineken Global, next linked up with international artists to spread the message of environment conservation.

They collaborated with seven Hong Kong-based artists for this project, providing approximately 42 gallons (150 liters) of Air-Ink in graffiti cans.

These worked well and were used in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district for street art activation to campaign against air pollution.

They captured this moment on a video that went viral and garnered 2.5 million views within 10 days. Sharma next travelled to smog-choked cities around the world and challenged 19 street artists to create billboards and murals in Air-Ink illustrating the effects of carbon waste, starting in London, going on to Berlin, Chicago, Sydney, Singapore and Amsterdam.

Street artist Buff Monster created a beautiful black-and-white drawing on a Manhattan sidewalk titled “This art is painted with air pollution.”

Anirudh’s innovation also gained recognition from Shah Rukh Khan, an Indian actor, film producer and television personality. Referred to in the media as the “King of Bollywood” and “King Khan”, he has appeared in more than 80 Bollywood films. Khan pledged to use Air-Ink for his brand promotions.

This included 4 handmade posters of Khan posted across New Delhi and Mumbai advertising the launch of Sharma’s TED-Talks in India “Painted with Pollution.” With corporate and government partnerships, Graviky hopes to install 1,000 capture units in every constituency.

In 2019, Graviky Labs proudly made this post on their website: “(422 billion gallons (1.6 trillion liters) of air cleaned so far.”

Discover solution 7: a wearable badge that helps you figure out the cleanest and healthiest routes to work or school.

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Materials Your Home

2: Ahimsa Silk • Peace Silk made without killing silkworms

Problem:

To make one pound of silk involves killing about 2,500 or more silkworms. 30,000-50,000 silkworms are killed to make one six-yard  (5.5 m) saree.

The Bombyx mori moths, having fed on mulberry leaves until they grow to 3 in (7 cm) (ten thousand times their original size) are then ready to be harvested.

The worms are boiled or blasted with steam by manufacturers to collect the cocoons, and this process kills the pupae.

Solution:

In the early 1990s, Kusuma Rajaiah was working in Andhra Pradesh’s handloom department when ex-president of India R Venkatarman’s wife, Janaki, who was on a state visit to the silk manufacturing facilities, asked Rajaiah if silk could be made without killing the worms.

Having studied fibers and filaments at The Indian Institute of Handloom Technology for three years, Rajaiah, a firm believer in Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of non-violence, found a solution enabling the silkworm to emerge out of the cocoon naturally and come out from their metamorphosis and live their fullest life peacefully.

From the pierced cocoons the required yarn is extracted and spun into a fiber for making a fabric which has the same luxurious feel of silk, with a slightly ‘raw’ appearance.

In contrast, the less humane process takes about 15 minutes. The damaged cocoons yield six times less filament, too, doubling the price of conventional silk.

Having created his first sample sarees, Rajaiah commercialised his innovation as Ahimsa Silk or Peace Silk. (Ahiṃsā  Sanskrit: अहिंसा is an ancient Indian principle of nonviolence which applies to all living beings)

The government of India granted Rajaiah a 20-year patent in 2002 and trade marks for Ahimsa silk in 2006. It has since been used in designer collections showcased all over the world.

The innovative entrepreneur has also been able to make jersey out of Ahimsa silk, which they now use to make T-shirts and lingerie. Based on Rajaiah’s solution, Prayaag Barooah of FabricPlus, a weaving initiative in Guwahati, Assam, works with about 100,000 rural silk farmers and weavers to manufacturer ahimsa silk. With COVID-19, FabricPlus transitioned to making silk masks.

Discover solution 3: a battery that literally breathes, exhaling oxygen.

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