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Materials Your Home

295: Polypropylene-free tea bags

Problem:

Canadian researchers published a study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Environmental Science and Technology which found that steeping a single plastic tea bag at brewing temperature releases about 11.6 billion minuscule particles known as “microplastics” and 3.1 billion “nanoplastics” into each cup. Teabags could be as big a cause of plastic pollution as microbeads or carrier bags.

Solution:

Organic tea bags are made by a dozen manufacturers including Brew Tea Co., Teapigs. Aldi, Duchy Organics, Hampstead Tea, Steenbergs, We are Tea, Hannah Sell’s Tea and Nemi.


Based in Keynsham, England, Pukka Herb teabags are made of a special blend of natural abaca (a type of banana) and plant cellulose fibres. Their supply of tea bag paper is also unbleached. They are staple-free and 100% biodegradable and/or recyclable. The tea bag strings are made from 100% organic, non-GMO, un-bleached cotton use a simple stitch of organic cotton and a unique folding process. This means they do not need to use polypropylene or a metal staple to hold their teabags together.

The tea bag is only a century old. Before that loose tea leaves would brew in a tea pot, while the tea infuser or strainer made of stainless steel was fine for one or two people. These systems are still eco friendly.

What you can do: Purchase tea that uses organic tea bags.

Visit us tomorrow for Solution 296: Second-hand Shopping Mall

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Planet Care Your Home

283: Microfilter clothes washing devices

Problem:

700,000 plastic microfibers come off synthetic garments when they go into a machine. By coming off, these fibers pass through the filters of the washing machines, which are not equipped to retain these microparticles. Since wastewater treatment plants do not have the capacity to filter them, they end up in sewage and, therefore, in the oceans. These fibers finally finish their course in the organism of marine animals.

Solution:

Microfilter clothes washing devices


In 2005, Brian Koski of Wexco Environmental Inc., Milaca, Minnesota developed the Filtrol 160 attachable filter which removes non-biodegradable materials and fibers, such as lint,hair, pet fur, sand, food and other debris, from a washing machine discharge. Filtrols are now in use problem in thousands of homes, businesses, and residential properties across the USA.

In 2008, keen surfers, Alexander Nolte and Oliver Spies co-founded of LANGBRETT GmbH specializing in environmentally friendly surf, skate and outdoor apparel with retail stores in Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt.

Concerned with micro-particle pollution, they conceived of a plastic filter bag specially designed to retain these particles during a clothes wash. Nolte and Spies worked with German research institute Fraunhofer to test and vet the bag’s design and material.

They settled on polyamide, also known as nylon, that does not shed synthetic fibers easily. It is made with a 50-micron mesh, a width that allows soapy water to enter the bag without allowing fibers to leave. They trade named their patented innovation the Guppyfriend.

Guppyfriend attracted the attention of Patagonia, the American clothing company, Greener Grazing program at Australis Aquaculture when word about the project reached Phil Graves, managing director of Tin Shed Ventures, Patagonia’s investment fund. Patagonia already had a relationship with LANGBRETT, which sells Patagonia clothing.

They received early prototypes of the bag and tested them with the UCSB researchers they had worked with on their fiber loss study. They confirmed that the bag trapped anywhere from 90-95% of fibers. When the bag is removed from the washer at the end of a cycle, the fiber – visible against the white mesh – can be removed by hand and disposed of. Tests show that the bag remains functional and intact after hundreds of washings.

Since then, Nolte and Spies are also working on reducing microfiber losses before the fabric reaches the laundry room. They are working with Deutsche Textilforschungszentrum, a German standards body, to create a metric that will show the rate and amount of fiber losses of a given textile. They hope clothing designers will choose fabrics that aren’t prone to shedding. (en.guppyfriend.com)

In Ljubljana, Slovenia, a team led by Mojca Zupan and her engineer Hakim El Khiar have developed the PlanetCare washing machine filter. PlanetCare filters are available worldwide from an online shop. Every user receives a filter, replacement cartridges, a hose, a mount, and a small counter of wash cycles.

After the initial installation, the user will need to replace a full cartridge after approximately 20 wash cycles. After installing the last new cartridge, they return the used cartridges to PlanetCare for recycling (cartridges come in a returnable box with prepaid postage) who will send you a new set.

A commercial PlanetCare filter is designed for the service industry. Laundromats, hotels, hospitals, marinas: wherever washing machines operate 24 hours a day. This filter has been tested and approved by four renowned institutions: University of Slovenia, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), the Swedish Environmental Agency and a washing machine manufacturer.

As of January 1, 2025, based on a decree passed by the French Ministry of Ecological Transition, all new washing machines must be fitted with microplastic filters, while manufacturers would obtain an environmental bonus if they transitioned before 2025.

What you can do: Use one of these filter to help reduce microfiber pollution.

Discover Solution 284: 99Recycle

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Your Home

257: Oceanix

Problem:

By 2030, approximately 60 % of the world’s population will live in cities that are exposed to grave economic, social, and environmental pressures. Further, approximately 90 % of the largest global cities are vulnerable to rising sea levels. By 2050, out of the world’s 22 megacities with a population of more than 10 million, 15 are located along the ocean’s coasts.

Solution:

In June 2019, UN-Habitat New Urban Agenda along with non-profit Oceanix unveiled designs to build a floating city at sea that would house 10,000 people, be fully autonomous and could withstand Category 5 hurricanes.


Based in Hong Kong, Oceanix is the brainchild of Marc Collins Chen, a Tahitian entrepreneur and former politician, who served as the Minister of Tourism of the Pacific nation of French Polynesia. In January 2017, this nation looking for a potential lifeline as AGW takes hold, in had become the first country to sign an agreement to deploy the floating islands off its coast. Low-lying, small islands of the Pacific are disproportionately at risk of losing land as sea level climbs by an expected 10 in. to 32 in. (26-82 cm) by the late 21st century.

Also on the team are Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in Denmark and MIT’s Center for Ocean Engineering. Oceanix City would measure 185 ac (75 ha) spread over floating platforms. The idea is that the floating hexagonal platforms would be prefabricated on land and grouped into clusters of six to create a “village” of up to 1,650 residents.

A total of six villages would then be grouped together around a central harbor. All buildings would be kept between 4 and 7 seven stories-high to ensure a low center of gravity and mitigate the effects of high winds. They would also be made from sustainable materials such as bamboo and feature large flat roofs to aid shading and offer space for solar panels. There would be a focus on farming too, both on land and, below sea level, floating reefs, seaweed, oysters, mussel, scallop and clam farming.

Residents would get around on electric vehicles. The structure itself will be moored to the bottom of the ocean and will rely entirely on the concept of so-called “ocean farming”, which means growing food under the surface of the water. For example, cells under the platforms could collect mussels, squid and other types of seafood. Aquaponics systems will use fish waste to help fertilize plants while vertical farms will generate year-round production.

Both technologies could help the city self-sufficient to food during a hurricane or other natural disaster. Either cars or vehicles with harmful emissions will be forbidden. Even garbage trucks will not be provided – trash pneumatic tubes will be installed. They will transport the waste to a sorting station where they could be identified and redirected. The city will also have a water system that extracts clean water from the air. (oceanix.org)

Currently there is a technology race to build the first green floating city for people to live sustainably on the ocean. Singapore is cooperating with Norway on ambitious floating projects. In Europe, Norway is putting the weight of its state-owned enterprise Equinor (formerly Statoil) into exploring this new space and building strategic alliances. Norway is conducting workshops on floating cities.

The Netherlands, in cooperation with the United Nations, recently announced the creation of the Global Center on Adaptation to be housed in floating offices in Rotterdam. This center will be led by several luminaries, including former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, business leader Bill Gates and CEO of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva.

Discover Solution 258: Plaxx plastic-recycled oil

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Materials Your Home

255: Eco-friendly mattress

Problem:

Most mattresses are made with synthetic fibers or foam, which don’t biodegrade. Cotton or wool stuffing can be processed with pesticides and other chemicals—some of them potentially carcinogenic.

Solution:

The eco-friendly mattress.


In September 2020, John Lewis & Partners, a brand of high-end department stores operating for almost one century throughout Great Britain, launched its first ever fully recyclable eco mattress.

Their EcoMattress is handcrafted in a carbon-neutral factory in Yorkshire using chemical-free materials, 200 recycled plastic bottles, and layers of EcoFlex fibres (a soft polyester filling made from 100 % recycled fibres).

The mattress, which can be fully recycled at the end of its life, also features a clever glue-free high density Cortec Quad pocket spring system, innovated by Harrison Spinks Springs of Leeds, UK. With a total of 750 pocket springs in the king size mattress, it aims to provide balance during the night, while also reliving pressure and helping to keep your body weight evenly distributed.

What you can do: When you next purchase a mattress, make it an Eco-mattress 

Discover Solution 256: Natrium Reactor

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Materials Your Home

252: recyclable pantyhose

Problem:

A pair of women’s tights (pantyhose) does not resist more than six uses. The 104 million pairs of tights in France thrown away each year equal to the weight of the Eiffel Tower or 7, 300 tonnes of garbage..

Solutions:

Lætitia Paput and Aurore Jacques of the Bordeaux suburb of Blanquefort, France decided to make pantyhose in a fiber recycled from plastic waste from the textile industry which were previously buried or burned. They also created bins specifically from thrown-away tights.


They called their start-up REV, the first three letters of the French words “rêver, révolutionner et revivre” (= dream, revolutionise and recycle). Rêver because it is a childlike dream to create this brand of textile; revolutionise eco-fashion with pretty and comfortable products and recycle materials.

To finance their first pairs of tights, Paput and Jacques launched a fundraising campaign on the Ulule platform. In a few hours they had reached 440% of their goal.

In Stockholm, Sweden, Nadja Forsberg and Linn Frisinger started up “Swedish Stockings” to make a luxury range of pantyhose from recycled nylon and natural fibers, at a plant in Italy which uses sustainable practices like eco-friendly dyes, post-dyeing water treatments, and solar power.

From a fashion perspective, there are classic black opaque panty hose, racy Astrid fishnets, lace and leopard tights, and pointelle socks, among other styles. Committed to a circular fashion industry, Swedish Stockings also provide two recycling centres to which you can post your old nylons for recycling, and they will accept any brand.

Send a minimum of 3 old pairs at once, and they will send you a discount code for your next purchase.

Considering whether there is a second life for old tights, Forsberg and Frisinger teamed up with Gustaf Westman to combine recycled tights and recycled fiberglass and make them into a limited edition collection of marble-look tables durable enough to be used both indoors and outdoors.

Each table (depending on its size) contains between 80 and 350 pairs of tights that have been diverted from landfills through their recycling program.

What you can do: Buy stockings form and support REV and Swedish Stockings

Discover Solution 253: Smog-dissipating gun for Delhi pollution

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Materials Your Home

245: Sustainable tooth cleaners

Problem:

All-plastic polyethylene toothpaste tubes were introduced in the 1990s. One billion toothpaste tubes end up in landfills every year harsh chemical residues Every year, more than 50 Empire State Buildings worth of toothpaste tubes end up in landfills or oceans.

Solution:

Tube-free toothpaste


Determined to replace toothpaste tubes with tablets, in 2016, Lindsay McCormick, a TV producer in Hollywood, California, bought a new TDP 0 tablet machine made in Texas and having learned how to use it, began experimenting in her Los Angeles apartment with a range of different ingredients.

She talked to every dentist and dental hygienist who would give her the time of day and even took open source online chemistry classes to develop the right formula, free from harsh chemicals, dyes, artificial flavors, and unnecessary fillers.

The result was a product she called Bite Toothpaste Bits, a mint or mint charcoal flavored pill which once bitten becomes foamy like toothpaste, quantities of which can be contained in a refillable glass bottle.

Before long Lindsay started getting orders from people who shared her passion for sustainability.

So she bought a TDP 5 machine from the same company in Texas for US$2,599 that could make five thousand pills in an hour. A “Women’s Health” video that she had shot on her iPhone started going viral. Soon after, Lindsay ended up having to quit her job and has been working full time on Bite ever since.

After being featured in media outlets such Cosmopolitan and Business Insider, Bite operates out of a fully FDA-approved manufacturing facility to keep up with demand. Since August 2018, Bite has sold more than 12 million tablets.

Early in 2020, kid-friendly flavored Bits became available with their 4-month subscription. At the same time, in response to the hand sanitizer shortage due to COVID-19, Bite found the World Health Organization’s (WHO) formula and made it, using their repurposed and sanitized glass Bite bottles, then donating the first batch to those most in need in the Los Angeles area. (bitetoothepastebits.com)

Lindsay McCormick is not alone. In 2018, Kalleonne Laboratoire des Sources in Souspierre in the Drôme region of France, launched Ascentical, toothpaste sourced from mountain plants in a recyclable metal tin. It sells in BioCoop stores across France.

Toothpaste can be applied by fingers, but usually by a brush. John and Heather McDougall grew up in a small town in North Dakota. With a dad as a dentist, John’s path to design school, and Heather’s to law, were far from the family business. During school, however, they decided to use their talents to create products with environmental and social value, and as fate would have it, they could not resist starting with a toothbrush.

The result was the Bogobrush made from sculpted organic wild bamboo with bristles made from 62% castor bean oil and 38% nylon, and packaged in a cardboard box. Another firm, Radius, makes funky-looking toothbrushes called Source from cellulose and removable heads with vegetable-based nylon bristles.

What you can do: Buy and use these products.

Discover Solution 246: Peppermint tea for fart reduction

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Your Home

237: WholeGarment

Solution:

WholeGarment


In 1962 Masahire Seima built the prototype of a fully automatic seamless glove knitting machine but it was considered to be difficult to put into practical use and incurred large debt.

Thirty years later, in 1995, his company Shima Seiki presented the commercial version of a textile machine that could produce an entire garment without seams, using only the amount of yarn required to knit that item, thus reducing labor and material loss associated with cutting and sewing processes, saving substantially on waste.

They called it WholeGarment.

It was unveiled at the unveiled at the International Textile Machinery (ITMA) exhibition, the machine was described by SWG (Sächsische Walzengravur) as “The Magic of the Orient”, able to knit a single sweater from yarn in only 30 minutes.

During the next twenty years, at the Innovation Factory, which was set up in 2016 as a means of establishing a new production system for the Japan-based fashion retailer to utilize Shima’s latest knit production technologies, the machine was improved to give greater productivity and efficiency, flexibility, reliability, and expanded patterning capability as well as product range.

One innovation was the Slide Needle, (whereby a slider mechanism replaces the conventional latch, expanding possibilities in knit and transfer, with increased number of knitting techniques.

In 2002, a no-plate ink jet printing machine “SIP-100F” was developed, and a “Total Fashion System” based on “SDS-ONE” strengthened the cooperation between “SIP” and “P-CAM,” contributing to a revitalization of the industry, helping to optimise inventory levels and reduce consumption. In 2017 Uniqlo teamed up with WholeGarment to launch a collection which featured items to redefine quality knitwear at affordable prices.

As part of factory greening, Shima Seiki has a large-scale solar power generation system at each factory and are promoting the reduction of energy consumption. They have also planted approximately 12,000 trees, outside their factories making approximately 30% of the site “green space,” and contributing to CO₂ reduction.

Some major customers are Max Mara (a fashion designer brand) and Paola Martignoni (an Italian knitwear manufacturer).

In the financial year to March 31 2019, Shima Seiki Ltd sold 1,521 machines worldwide. Liu Jingyuan, an analyst at Goldman Sachs who follows sales of WholeGarment in Asia, forecasts that annual sales will be roughly double that in the financial year ending March 2021. The main bottleneck, argues Mr Liu, will be parts shortages rather than final demand.

In September 2019, Shima Seiki was selected by the Cabinet Office public relations office of the government of Japan as one of several innovative companies effectively undertaking Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations as a global agenda.

What you can do: Buy and wear a WholeGarment.

Visit us tomorrow for Solution 238: Thermosyphoning: how to heat without using electricity from the Grid!

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Planet Care Your Home

236: Marine glass

Problem:

What to do with emptied edible sea shells

Solution:

Marine glass


Atelier Viaud in Rennes, Brittany, France specializes in the formulation of Ostraco marine glass from natural resources and co-products in the regions. From the object to the work, from a palette of glasses growing over the years and crafted by craftsmen, the Viaud’s Atelier offers collections for the home through its ® brand, exceptional pieces on -measurement for professionals, and occasionally produces pieces in collaboration with other artists.

A graduate of the Boulle school, Lucile Viaud wanted to work on the issue of valuing marine resources, and in particular waste, fish bones or skins, oyster or abalone shells, shells, to create a material and then imagine objects.

It was at the Idmer technological innovation center in Lorient that Lucile Viaud carried out her first research. This is where her first marine glaz (old Breton for Glass). She began with microalgae and oyster shells, then later progressed to abalone shells. Production of the elegant blue-green bowls is then carried out by Stéphane Rivoal in his workshop in Arcueil, in the Paris region,

The particularity of its glass lies in its infinitely recyclable state.

Discover Solution 237: seamless sewing

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Human Effort Your Home

219: Cell-grown meat

Problem:

Apart from the destruction of forests to make prairies for livestock, the latter’s methane emissions contributing to GHGs, their intake of antibiotics and their traumatic electrocuted death prior to preparation as edible meat have seen an exponential rise in the number of vegetarians and vegans worldwide.

Vegetarianism categories were estimated in 2018 to be about 11% of the world population.

Solution:

Slaughter-free meat involves taking a sample of animal stem cells from a real cow, the building blocks of muscle and other organs and replicating them outside of the animal.


The cells are placed in petri dishes with amino acids and carbohydrates to help the muscle cells multiply and grow. The concept of cultured meat was popularized by Jason Matheny in the early 2000s after co-authoring a seminal paper on cultured meat production and creating New Harvest, the world’s first non-profit organization dedicated to supporting in vitro meat research.

In August 2013, Mark Post, a Dutch pharmacologist and Professor of Vascular Physiology at the Netherlands’ Maastricht University, was the first to showcase a proof-of-concept for cultured meat by creating the first burger patty grown directly from cells.

The burger was cooked by Chef Richard McGeown of Couch’s Great House Restaurant, Polperro, Cornwall, and tasted by critics Hanni Rützler, a food researcher from the Future Food Studio and Josh Schonwald. To commercialize the product, Mark Post co-founded Mosa Meat, indicating that they planned to bring cultured meat to the market by 2021.

In 2015, Maastricht University hosted the first International Conference on Cultured Meat. As the field has grown, non-profit organizations such as New Harvest and The Good Food Institute have begun hosting annual conferences to convene industry leaders, scientists, investors, and potential collaborators from parallel industries.

In 2018, a Dutch startup Meatable, consisting of Krijn de Nood, Daan Luining, Ruud Out, Roger Pederson, Mark Kotter and Gordana Apic among others, reported that it had succeeded in growing meat using pluripotent stem cells from animals’ umbilical cords.

Although such cells are reportedly difficult to work with, Meatable claimed to be able to direct them to behave using their proprietary technique in order to become muscle cells or fat cells as needed. The major advantage is that this technique bypasses fetal bovine serum, meaning that no animal has to be killed in order to produce meat.

It is estimated there were about 30 cultured meat startups across the world. A Dutch House of Representatives Commission meeting discussed the importance and necessity of governmental support for researching, developing and introducing cultured meat in society, speaking to representatives of three universities, three startups and four civil interest groups on September 26, 2018. (meatable.com)

In California, Just is developing lab-grown chicken nuggets, while Finless Food has developed a lab-grown tuna and Memphis Meats, is working on another cell-based product.

In Israel, in 2017 Professor Shulamit Levenberg from Technion University founded Aleph Farms in Rehovet, to commercialise the technique of growing bovine cells on a scaffold similar to growing human tissue implants.

A study by researchers at Oxford and the University of Amsterdam found that cultured meat was “potentially … much more efficient and environmentally-friendly”, generating only 4% GHG emissions, reducing the energy needs of meat generation by up to 45%, and requiring only 2% of the land that the global meat/livestock industry does.

In March 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed on a framework to regulate laboratory grown meat. This deal takes lab meat one step closer to being approved for commercial sale in the United States. Some lab meat producers expect this approval within the year, but some experts warn this process might take years.

During 2019, the nascent, laboratory-grown meat industry experienced fast development thanks to millions of dollars in capital investment. Estimates suggest these meats could reach a mass market by 2025,

The multi-billion dollar traditional meat-producing industry does not approve, warning that the energy and fossil fuel requirements of large-scale cultured meat production may be more environmentally destructive than producing food off the land.

In May 2019, the Alabama Senate passed a bill to ensure that laboratory-grown meat substitutes are not sold to Alabama consumers labeled as “meat.” There are over 20,000 cattle farms in the state of Alabama. Beef continues to be a favorite protein among consumers across the world, with exports of American beef representing an US$8 billion industry alone.

Visit us tomorrow for Solution 220: sub-atomic springs that break down plastic

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Planet Care Your Home

216: Less thirsty rice

Problem:

Traditional rice farming is heavily reliant on ready supplies of water and labour. Climate change and urbanisation, however, threaten traditional paddy cultivation.

Solution:

A team led by plant development biologist Dr Smita Kurup at the Rothamstead Research in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines, and Punjab Agricultural University, India, are using use cutting edge plant breeding technologies, field trials and an image based system for measuring traits to accelerate the development of new direct seeded rice (DSR) adapted rice varieties that can be grown with less water than conventional puddled transplanted rice.


In many parts of Asia farmers are switching to direct seeded rice DSR as a more sustainable alternative. This is grown in dry fields, so uses less water and requires less work. It also cuts out the greenhouse gases that bacteria in paddy fields produce.

Kurup has already identified in the lab hitherto ‘unknown’ varieties more suitable to DSR in terms of their seedling traits by screening several hundred varieties from the International Rice Genebank at IRRI.

As a next step, the plan is to use these lines to combine with current good yielding and disease resistant rice cultivars to generate new high-yielding “DSR adapted” rice varieties.
Once developed, their field performance will be evaluated at multiple locations. Finally, the most promising breeding lines will be nominated for trails in Asia before releasing to farmers.

Visit us tomorrow for Solution 217: Indoor vertical farms

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Your Home Planet Care

211: Xeriscaping your lawn

Problem:

Every year across the USA, manicured grass lawns covering up to 50 million acres of land, consume nearly 3 trillion gallons of water a year, 200 million gallons of gas (for all that motor mowing), and 70 million pounds of pesticides. … In fact, these lawns can do substantial harm to the environment and to both vertebrates and insects.

Solution:

Xeriscaping: lawns that are less thirsty.


The concept combining “landscape” with the Greek prefix xero-, from ξηρός (xēros), meaning dry, was coined and trademarked by Denver Water, the Colorado city of Denver’s water department, during a difficult drought period in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Lawns were a European invention, England to be precise, and they were the undertaking of the fabulously wealthy, seeking to bring the glade closer to home.

Originally, they were cultivated with more useful (though not necessarily used) plants like chamomile or thyme. However, the trend moved towards closely cropped grasses, first maintained by grazing sheep then by men with scythes and finally, eventually, moving along (in fast forward) to the suburban land owner with his fossil fuel lawnmower, trimmers, and multitude of weapons against nature.

A growing number of homeowners are converting part or all of their lawns to a less thirsty form of landscape. These no-mow yards fall into four categories: 1) naturalized or unmowed turf grass that is left to grow wild; 2) low-growing turf grasses that require little grooming (most are a blend of fescues); 3) native or naturalized landscapes where turf is replaced with native plants as well as noninvasive, climate-friendly ones that can thrive in local conditions; and 4) yards where edible plants—vegetables and fruit-bearing trees and shrubs—replace a portion of turf.

In Montreal, Canada, landscape gardeners Philippe Asselin, Emile Forest and Jonathan Lapalme have created an ngo “Les Nouveaux Voisins” (= the new neighbours) to replace lawns with gardens favorable to biodiversity.

They encourage individuals to change cultures to accommodate more plants, birds, insects, and other non-human neighbours. This in turn will reduce heat islands, increase carbon sequestration in soils as well as increased community resilience.

Organizations like the Surfriders Foundation, a national environmental group made up of surfing aficionados, have helped transform turf lawns in Southern California parks and homes into ocean-friendly gardens, using succulents and other indigenous plants along with hardscape materials like rocks and gravel that increase filtration, conserve water, and reduce runoff.

Xeriscaping goes one step further by replacing grassy lawns with soil, rocks, mulch, and drought-tolerant native plant species. Trees such as myrtles and flowers such as daffodils are drought-tolerant plants.

Native grasses (warm-season) that have been cultivated for turf lawns, such as buffalo grass and blue grama, can survive with a quarter of the water that bluegrass varieties need.

What you can do: Xeriscape your lawn.

Discover Solution 212: Drone fireworks

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Human Effort Your Home

207: Sewing with seaweed

Problem:

As the world consumes more and more clothing, brands and suppliers are trying to meet this increasing demand by producing more garments. As these clothes make their way through the supply chain and product lifecycle, they take part in an environmentally hazardous sequence of events.

Solution:

Rapidly degradable yarns from kelp.


In Brooklyn, New York, Aaron Nesser, a graduate of Pratt Institute, Tessa Callaghan, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, with Aleksandra Gosiewski, Asta Skocir and Theanne Schiros researched into polymers made mostly from sustainable sea kelp

By 2018, they got to a point where they were spinning the polymer into something that, when worn, was durable and which they called AlgiKnit. Completely customizable, the material’s yarn-like strands can be any dimension and knitted to spec for sneakers and handbags, or the company can alter the hand-feel, durability and size of the material to create accessories like wrist watches

With their proof of concept landing the team $2.2m in seed investment from Hong Kong venture capital firm Horizons Ventures, AlgiKnit was also awarded €100K from the Dutch Postcode Lottery Green Challenge

While they experimented with an idea for a futuristic-looking trainer and collaborated with a designer to make a French-style market bag that was hitting fashion weeks that year, they eventually decided to focus on scaling up the production of the seaweed textile which can be died with pigments at scale.

Discover Solution 208: Office and home decor made from chopsticks

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

202: Invisible barcodes for recycling

Problem:

Many consumers struggle to figure out which items can be recycled while sorting our rubbish at home. Machines in sorting plants can face the same problem. This prevents many countries from achieving the recycling rates they would such as.

Solution:

Ravi K. Sharma of Digimarc in Portland, Oregon has developed and patented an “invisible” barcode which can more accurately identify recyclable plastics that could prevent their unnecessary disposal into landfills or incinerators.

Digimarc has signed Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which is focused on building a Circular Economy for plastics.

Products have disguised codes printed all over them making it easier to scan distinguishing food-grade plastics from non-food grade plastics so the right kind of plastic can be re used to manufacture new items.

Following successful initial trials carried out by TOMAR at a recycling facility in western Germany, involving scanning and photographing items at 150 frames per second, in 2020 the system will be installed in a conventional waste sorting plant.

The system, called HolyGrail has already involved a consortium of twenty of the world’s biggest brands, including Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone.

At home, individuals will be able to use an animated app on their cellphone to identify and place different types of plastic in the right trash cans.

Discover Solution 203: Iron fuel

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Energy Your Home

181: Greener personal desktop computing

Problem:

Internets cause global warming. Blog servers might have more than 10,000 PCs occupying an area of more than 40, 0000 sq. ft that generate huge amount of heat while running.

Each click of the keyboard engenders heat in a computer or laptop and processing of information data causes a minuscule rise in environmental temperature. Single internet search, depending upon the initial data, might consume enough electricity to run an 11 watt energy saving light bulb few minutes to an hour.

With about more than 5.6 billion searches internet searches estimated globally daily, the power consumption and GHG emissions generated by internet and computers is alarming. Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day (Internetlivestats, 2019). If you break this statistic down, it means that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average.

Solution:

Greener computing.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program has set up green computing criteria, and compliance with these requirements earns systems the Energy Star label.

To gain Energy Star compliance, computers must use an energy-efficient power supply, operate efficiently in power saving modes (standby/off, sleep and idle modes), and also provide power management features (along with information about how to use those features).

If all the computers that are sold in the United States met Energy Star requirements, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by the equivalent of 2 million cars and save about $2 billion annually on energy costs

In addition to the Energy Star label, EPEAT (Electronic Products Environmental Assessment Tool), run by the Green Electronics Council, rates computers based on more than 50 energy-efficient criteria including everything from what materials were used in the system and its packaging to its energy conservation and end-of-life management.

This is a three-tiered rating system — gold, silver and bronze — and computers ranked by EPEAT are also Energy Star compliant.

In June 2007, Dell of Round Rock, Texas, set a goal of becoming the greenest technology company on Earth for the long term. The company launched a zero-carbon initiative that included partnering with customers to build the “greenest PC on the planet”.

Called the Studio Hybrid, its 87% efficient power supply meets Energy Star’s 4.0 green computing standards, and EPEAT gives the system its highest rating, gold.

The Studio Hybrid is 80% smaller than a typical desktop computer while its packaging is made from 95-percent-recyclable materials and comes with less printed documentation – 75 % less by weight (all documentation is made available online instead)

For an additional charge, owner-users can personalize it with a bamboo sleeve. And when they are ready to upgrade, the Studio Hybrid comes with its own system recycling kit.

Alongside Dell, other PC manufacturers have come up with solutions, including Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M57p, the Apple Mac mini, the Zonbu Desktop Mini, the Acer TravelMate TimelineX, the Asus Bamboo Series, the CherryPal etc.

What you can do: Shutdown and unplug your computer when not in use. Using your system’s power settings (for instance, programming a sleep mode or turning the machine off and unplugging it) is a smart way to conserve energy. But when it’s time to upgrade your system, consider going green. And don’t forget to recycle your outdated system.

Discover Solution 181: An app to help clean up rubbish

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Your Home

175: Biodegradable glue sticks

Problem:

Paper glues have a long history. UHU was developed by August Fischer of Bühl, Germany from 1905, and for a century this twist-and-glue stick was used in offices, classrooms and homes worldwide. But their single-use plastic condemned them to the landfill.

Solution:

From 2014, UHU, now owned by the Bolton Group, marketed its ReNATURE stick with a sugar cane based PE-HD container and 70% nature-based adhesive.


In 2018, the product received the Österreichisches Umweltzeichen für Produkte (the official Austrian environmental label for products), a hallmark of high environmental standards, quality and product safety. (uhu.com)

Similarly Henkel of Düsseldorf’s Pritt Stick has formulated a glue power primarily from natural sources, 93% of it is made from raw materials such as potato starch.

To mark the environmentally friendly formulation, “Mr. Pritt” is supporting the global urban green-space charity ‘Trees for Cities’ through Pritt’s ‘Stick up for Trees’ campaign. Mr Pritt is encouraging kids to use their imaginations and get artistic by creating tree collages from renewable and recycled materials such as leaves, bottle caps and egg boxes.

In 1927, Aldo Balma and Andrea Capoduri of Voghera, Italy manufactured their Coccoina natural glue made of potato starch, glycerine, almond oil and water. It was contained in an unbreakable aluminum packaging complete with little biodegradable brush with natural bristles in the middle.

In 1984, Coccoina 84 was launched, a formulation of liquid glue based on polyvinyl alcohol, a biodegradable water soluble polymer but still characterized by an almond scent. The Coccoina stick, based on water-washable polyvinylpyrrolidone, was produced from 2007. (coccoina.it)

What you can do: Use biodegradable glue sticks.

Discover Solution 176: Substitute river sand

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Human Effort Your Home

162: BPA-free food cans

Problem:

Since the 1950s manufacturers discovered that lining the inside of their tins with bisphenol A (BPA) epoxy resins strengthened the tins and extended shelf life. But BPA is also an endocrine disruptor the effects of which have been linked to an increased risk of breast, lower sperm counts in men and prostate cancer, infertility, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, and ADHD.

Solution:

BPA-free food cans


Eden Foods grocery store set up in 1968 is now the oldest organic food produce in the US. In 1997, Eden Foods became alarmed by the toxicity of bisphenol-A (BPA) in cans and food packaging long before it made it to mainstream news. From April of 1999, Eden beans have featured a custom made can lined with an oleoresinous c-enamel that does not contain the endocrine disrupter.

Oleoresin is a mixture of oil and resin extracted from plants such as pine or balsam fir. Since then Eden uses BPA-free enamel-lined cans for most of its products (the only exception being tomato-based foods). After years of trying to realise a BPA-free tomato can, in 2011 Eden found an alternative in the amber glass jar.

Recently, some of the world’s biggest food companies such as Nestlé, Heinz, General Mills and Campbell Soups have attempted to remove BPA from their products. Several other firms, such as Coca-Cola, declined to disclose a timetable for its withdrawal, saying that BPA was safe.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency has examined BPA, and says that levels of the compound people would typically consume do not represent a risk to consumers.

What you can do : Make sure to buy food cans that are BPA-free

Tomorrow’s solution: bioplastic food wrap

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Materials Your Home

145: Recycling false teeth

Problem:

Dental crowns, bridges, and PFMs are alloyed with gold, platinum, palladium, and silver, nylon and acrylic. When their wearer changes them or dies, they must be recycled in order not to end up in the landfill.

Solution:

In 2006, Isao Miyoshi was running a dental laboratory in Sakado, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Every day, he visited the dentistry department at the local Meikai University Hospital, where he collected dozens of plaster impressions of people’s gums and their remaining teeth. Back at Miyoshi’s lab, his 12 dental technicians then crafted new dentures as replacements for the patients’ lost teeth.


But then 63-year-old Miyoshi came up with a solution. In his lab, they were making about 30 new dentures a day. People on average get new dentures every three years, because the condition of their teeth changes. Once the new ones are made, dentists usually give the old ones back to the patients. But most people don’t know what to do with them and they end up keeping them in a drawer.

That’s really a waste of something useful.

What if he were to collect crowns, bridgework, dentures, inlays, clasps, gold teeth and other metal extractions, then remove the metals and re-sell them for recycling while discarding the rest.

With 5 grams of these alloys worth around 2,000 yen, once they are separated from the dentures recycle used dentures, if all of the 3.6 million dentures with precious metals discarded each year in Japan were recycled, they would be valued at up to 7 billion yen (roughly $83.3 million).

Miyoshi founded a non-profit Japan Denture Recycling Association and it was not long before the program was able to donate all its earnings to UNICEF and has since given over $400,000 to charity

Founded in 1892, Garfield Refining in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the oldest and most respected precious metal refineries in the world. Recognized in North America as DentalTown’s “Best Dental Scrap Refiner” for 9 years in a row, for Garfield refining is recycling.

In England, Simple Refining, a family run company based in Cheshire, also specialises in gold refining and recycling of dental scrap. While in France a D3E (ou DEEE) dentaires are recycled Récyclum (formerly Recydent)

What you can do: Ensure that yours and your family’s false teeth etc are sustainably recycled.

Discover Solution 146: Faux fur

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Materials Human Effort Planet Care Your Home

143: Face masks – recycling

Problem:

Face masks, part of personal protection equipment (PPE) in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, are also proving a major new source of pollution, with used masks seen littering streets, countryside and waterways across the world. Once used, they can be destroyed at CO2 producing hazardous incineration plants or landfilled, publicly and privately.

Solution:

When Plaxtil in Chatelleraut, Vienne France was started up in 2017, it had specialised in the circular economy of recycling clothes by turning them into a plastic-like material. Since June 2020, it has transitioned to recycling masks.


First, they are collected and placed in “quarantine” for four days. They are then ground down into small pieces and subjected to ultraviolet light to ensure they are completely decontaminated before the recycling process begins. The masks could be turned into a vast array of different objects, but for the moment Plaxtil is turning them into products that can be used in the fight against Covid, such as plastic visors.

At first the French company collected 70,000 masks from the 50 collection points that we ourselves set up in the city, producing between 2,000 and 3,000 recycled products. Since July, overwhelmed with requests, Plaxtil has been in contact with the public authorities to set up a national mask recycling channel.(plaxtil.com)

Not far from Plaxtil, is Elise in Lille who have transitioned their conventional waste collection business (from paper to furniture, batteries or even computers) to make COVID-19 waste bins placed at around fifty collection points in Lille alone.

When the bags are full, they are carefully closed and picked up by Elise’s collectors then sent to their premises to be treated in energy recovery. Elise has been able to treat around 200,000 masks for a total weight of 739 kg.

A third company Cosmolys, also near Lille, recovers the polypropylene contained in the masks to produce granules for making garden furniture.

What you can do: Dispose of your masks in an eco-friendly manner.

Discover Solution 144: The Fairphone

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Planet Care Your Home

138: Endangered Species Adoption

Problem:

Tens of species are vanishing from the face of the Earth every day. Almost one third to one-half of all species could become extinct by 2050. Well over 900 plants and animals are endangered, and hundreds more are threatened. Many of the reasons certain animals are disappearing forever are because of human activities.

Solution:

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), founded in 1961, has a program “Adopt an animal now”, whereby those interested visit and by one click can choose from their range of adoption animals, donating from £3 per month to protect precious habitats around the world and all the species which rely on them.


The Australian branch of the WWF also presents their own range of threatened species.

Not to be confused, The World Animal Foundation was created in Cleveland, Ohio in 2002 to raise public education regarding the preservation of the planet and the animals that inhabit it. WAF works through public education, research, investigations, animal rescue, legislation, special events and direct action. Three years later it moved its headquarters to Vermilion.

WorldAnimalFoundation.com, acts as a one-stop information portal for people wishing to learn more about animals and the earth.

Visitors can print dozens of free flyers and fact sheets and surf hundreds of pages regarding wildlife, endangered species, companion animals, aquatic animals and farm animals.

One of their solutions is “Adopt an Endangered Species”. WAF Adopt An Endangered Species Animal Kit comes in a deluxe WAF folder and includes:

  • Glossy Photo of Your Adopted Endangered Species Animal
  • Adopt An Endangered Species Animal Adoption Certificate
  • Fact Sheet About Your Adopted Endangered Species Animal
  • Help Animals Info Cards Packed With Information On Animal Issues
  • How You Can Help Animals And The Environment.

Over in France, in 2008, Kevin Desmond, author/compiler of “Planet Savers: 301 Extraordinary Environmentalists”, attempted to set up an ngo EvE-Urgent.org, short for Espèce-ville espèce (species-town-species) whereby towns and cities worldwide were each encouraged to adopt a threatened species as its totem and to take measures to protect it and its ecosystem from extinction.

To select their species a town had decided to sponsor, the EvE-Urgent website recommended looking for it in the local biodiversity or consulting the Natura 2000 network. But nothing prevented them from choosing one abroad. In order to avoid duplication, an “EvE counter” for the participating cities was set up.

Once the species had been chosen and the information about it has been collected, the project can be presented to the municipality. But “the engagement of the town hall is not obligatory”, the site specified.

In case of refusal, citizens could themselves create an association with the help of EvE-Urgent.org in order to contribute to the protection of the species, either by collaborating with specialized NGOs, or by acting directly on the ground. Fund-raising events, cultural and sporting could raise funds for the species chosen.

Among the first to adopt was the city of Bordeaux choosing the Angélique des estuaries which grows alongside the River Garonne and subsequently creating a Park named after the species. Although never developed, the EvE-Urgent solution could still be used….

What you can do: Adopt at least one threatened species.

Discover solution 139: Using landfill gas for ceramic kilns

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Energy Your Home

132: Energy communities

Problem:

Sustainable energy limited to individual domestic use may not be the most beneficially efficient solution.

Solution:

Energy sharing is a model where citizens can exchange locally produced power with one another (peer-to-peer) — or external markets.


The EU Directive 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources defines peer-to-peer trading of renewable energy as: “The sale of renewable energy between market participants by means of a contract with pre-determined conditions governing the automated execution and settlement of the transaction, either directly between market participants or indirectly through a certified third-party market participant, such as an aggregator.”

The Energy Community, also referred to in the past as the Energy Community of South East Europe is an international organisation established between the European Union and a number of third countries to extend the EU internal energy market to Southeast Europe and beyond.

One example, Decidim is a collaborative project which encourages citizens of Barcelona to use a digital, open-source participatory platform to suggest, debate, comment and back new proposals for the city. The platform is a concrete output of the 2015-2019 municipal plan called “73 neighbourhoods, one Barcelona, Towards the city of rights and opportunities” and which gathered the input of some 40,000 people.

Catalonia’s first renewable energy cooperative, Som Energia, has used the Decidim platform to host its 2018 General Assembly and various debates with cooperative

What you can do: Check out whether you can become part of an energy community.

Discover Solution 133: Electricity from sidewalks

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Your Home Materials

130: Elevating house

Problem:

IPCC scientists expect a warming world to lead to more extreme rainfall, exposing an additional 250,000 to 400,000 people in Europe to river flooding, and potentially up to 5.5 million per year to coastal flooding.

Solution:

Since 2016, Tom Kelly and Graham Hicks of the UK-based Larkfleet Group, have been working on an experimental house that could rise on jacks above floodwaters. The 72 tons (65 tonne) house could be raised 4.5 ft. (1.5 m.) in less than five minutes.


In October 2017, South Holland District Council Planners gave permission for Larkfleet Homes in Lincolnshire, to build a test house in a paddock in Weston Hills near Spalding. Oddly, the developers, who believe it is the world’s first such home, have not been allowed to place it on a flood plain. If tests are successful the house could provide a model that would enable housebuilding on thousands of sites across the UK which at present cannot be developed because of the risk of flooding.

Once built, experiments with raising and lowering the house, including testing long-term maintenance and operation of the jacking system, will take place. Because the house will be of modular steel-frame design it can then be disassembled and re-erected on another site on conventional foundations as a family residence.

It is anticipated that houses of this design would be jacked up well ahead of the arrival of flood waters, based on advance warnings from organisations such as the Environment Agency. Rooftop solar panels and a battery would provide the house with some continuing electricity supply when raised above the ground and the water and sewage would remain connected through flexible hoses.

However, it is not envisaged that residents would remain in occupation during floods. Instead, the householders would pack up, lock up and jack up the home before taking refuge in temporary accommodation on higher ground elsewhere.

What you can do: Search out protective solutions if you choose to live or work beside seas or rivers.

Discover Solution 131: carbon footprint calculator for builders

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Planet Care Your Home

129: Elevated villages

Problem:

AGW causing the rise in global sea levels has been flooding the Pacific atoll nations such as Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Maldives, and the Marshall Islands. This also includes Vanua Levu, the second largest of Fiji’s 106 habitable islands in the South Pacific and villages such as Vunidogoloa in Korolao District.

Solution:

Elevated villages.


In 2006, the Fijian Government decided to abandon the flooded village and build a new Vunidogoloa for its 130 inhabitants, a couple of miles (2 km) inland. Eight years and half a million dollars later, on the January 16, 2014, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji inaugurated the new village of thirty timbered homes on stilts on a hillside.

Further Fijian villages have been completely relocated and two are in the initial stages of moving: Denimanu (Yadua Island) and Vunisavisavi, both of which have been provided with cyclone-proof houses donated by USAID. This leaves about 40 villages earmarked for relocation in the short to medium term as sea levels continue to rise. In 2015, a Fijian official said the government was looking at possibly relocating as many as 676 villages.

Other alternative solutions for flooding villages will include dredging and reclaiming land.

 

Discover Solution 130: Keeping your house out of the water

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128: Nickel-iron based electrolysis

Problem:

Currently the most popular system used for water splitting, or water electrolysis, relies on precious – hence very expensive – metals such as platinum and iridium as catalysts.

Solution:

An electrolyzer based on nickel and iron, elements that are less expensive and more abundant in the environment.


Yu Seung Kim, a research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Yuehe Lin of Washington State University’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, have developed a system that uses less expensive and more abundant materials. They worked to solve this problem by splitting water under alkaline, or basic, conditions with an anion exchange membrane electrolyzer based on nickel and iron, elements that are less expensive and more abundant in the environment.

By 2023, the global hydrogen generation market is anticipated to reach $199.1 billion. Promising markets for hydrogen energy comprise everything from power grid management and mass-energy conversion to fuel cells for cars. According to the duo, around 600 wind farms in the United States are prepared for direct connections to water electrolysis systems.

Discover Solution 129: Safety from flooding on higher ground

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Human Effort Your Home

124: Effective altruism

Problem:

Our hyper-consumer world soils, hurts and exhausts the Planet.

Solution:

Giving of time and money more effectively.


In 2009, Toby Ord and William MacAskill, philosophy professors at Oxford University launched a community around Ord’s “Giving What We Can”, and MacAskill’s “80,000 Hours” (You have 80,000 hours in your career. How can you best use them to help solve the world’s most pressing problems?).

Ord’s earlier work had explored the ethics of global health and global poverty, demonstrating that aid has been highly successful on average and has the potential to be even more successful if we were to improve our priority setting

This led him to create an international society called Giving What We Can, whose members have pledged over $600 million to the most effective charities helping to improve the world.

Giving What We Can (GWWC) members have pledged to donate at least 10% of their income for the remainder of their working lives to the causes that they believe are the most effective.

Ord and MacAskill founded the wider effective altruism movement, encouraging thousands of people to use reason and evidence to help others as much as possible.

The Centre for Effective Altruism inspires critical thinking by applying evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to improve the world.

Effective altruism can add meaning to our lives and can help us in finding fulfilment in what we do. Many effective altruists say that in doing good, they feel good.

Ord has advised the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the US National Intelligence Council, the UK Prime Minister’s Office, Cabinet Office, and Government Office for Science. His work has been featured more than a hundred times in the national and international media.

Factoring in these aspects, EA activists usually come to the conclusion that the three most-pressing issues for humanity are: extreme poverty, animal suffering, and what they call “long-term future.” This is basically the minimization of global catastrophic risks, also known as existential risks.

What you can do: Be altruistic and help others less fortunate than yourself.

Tomorrow’s solution: Electric boats supplying the grid

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

121: Edible water bubbles

Problem:

About 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are produced in the United States each year, and most are discarded. The properties that make PET useful as a packaging material (stability and durability) also make it resistant to breaking down after its useful life is over.

Solution:

Edible water bubbles.


The idea of an edible biodegradable capsule for artificial edible cherries, soft sheets, and the like, called spherification, was first patented in London by Unilever engineer William Peschardt in 1942. More recently the method was introduced into modernist cooking by Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

The most recent adaptation has been made by Pierre-Yves Paslier of Skipping Rocks Lab. Paslier started his career as a packaging engineer for L’Oréal in the daytime and hacking 3D-printers in his living room at night.

He then decided to study design at the RCA and in 2013, he co-designed one of the first consumer delta 3D-printers. Paslier left L’Oréal in 2012 to start a Masters degree in innovation, design and engineering at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, where he set about brainstorming non-plastic container designs.

He and classmate Rodrigo García González studied the properties of watermelons, tomatoes, coconuts and tapioca to understand how natural foods hold liquids. They finally settled on seaweed as their material of choice.

They called their edible water ball, made by dropping ice into separate solutions of calcium salt and “Notpla” a brown sodium alginate, the Ooho.

You can drink them by tearing a hole into the skin and pouring the water into your mouth, or they can be consumed whole. Containing 100 ml of liquid, the balls can be produced by a compact machine at their point of sale, eliminating the need for cups.

In 2014 Paslier and Gonzales founded Gravity Sketch, a VR 3D design platform and Skipping Rocks Lab, a sustainable packaging company, in London’s East End.

A crowd sourcing campaign as well as its accompanying YouTube went viral enabling Skipping Rocks to raise more than US$ 1 M from 1,000 investors in a mere three days. The manufacturing processes are covered under a Creative Commons license, making the recipe freely distributed and readily available for anyone to use.

In July 2018, they launched sauce sachets made from the seaweed material, which were on a six-week trial at 10 London takeaways with the delivery service Just Eat. Following the success of the trial, 10 London restaurants further trialled this product for 8 weeks, which is expected to prevent approximately 40,000 plastic sauce packets from entering homes.

Ginger and fruit juice shots were delivered to Selfridges department store, and the product was sold at UK music festivals as edible alcohol shots, including espresso martini and tequila sunrise.

In April 2019, when more than 41,000 people running in the London Marathon reached reach mile 23, thanks to Lucozade Ribena Suntory, they were handed Oohos instead of bottles. However, a video surfaced that showed streets strewn with plastic waste after the race was over.

That September, the Harrow half marathon in London replaced single use bottles and cups with Oohos. Paslier and Gonzalez are now experimenting with on green alternatives to cling film and the plastic liners used in throwaway coffee cups and ways to replace plastic toiletries bottles in hotel rooms.

What you can do: Discover Oohos or plan for the extended use of bottles and flasks.

Discover solution 122: The Climate Clock

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Human Effort Materials Your Home

119: Edible cutlery and crockery

Problem:

Plastic cutlery is a major contributor to the growing plastic waste crisis. An estimated 40 billion plastic utensils are used and thrown away each year in the United States alone. 122 millions tons (111 million tonnes) of plastic waste will have nowhere to go by 2030 due to Chinese import ban.

Solution:

Edible cutlery made of flour, and rice and wheat.


In 2005, Narayaana Peespaty, an agricultural scientist specialising in groundwater research, was on a field visit to Mahabubnagar, a drought-prone district in Telangana, India. Peesapaty had ordered a jowar roti millet bread for lunch. He arrived late. The roti had become cold and hard. Forced to break the roti and scoop the dal and curry with its pieces, crunching into them, Peeseapaty realised if a two-dimensional spatula can work, then why not a three-dimensional spoon?

Plastics should not be used for handling food, since they contain chemicals with toxic properties that leach into what we eat. Peesapaty founded a company called Bakeys to produce edible cutlery, made primarily from jowar, a millet flour, and rice and wheat flour in three flavours – savoury, sweet and plain. Tasting like crackers, even if they are not eaten, they are safe to dispose into the environment, as they are biodegradable.

The company has expanded to smaller spoons for soups and desserts as well as small bowls and pots. By 2011, Bakeys had manufactured over 1.5 million edible spoons made from rice, wheat, and millet in eight different flavours: sugar, ginger-cinnamon, ginger-garlic, celery, black pepper, cumin, mint-ginger, and carrot-beetroot.

Several materials such as wheat bran, rice bran, sorghum, corn, etc. are being used for manufacturing of edible cutlery and edible tableware. It is baked at high temperature and is non-polluting from production to disposal. Over 10,000 edible knives, spoons and forks are made per day by a growing number of companies.

For example, Mede Cutlery Company in Zhejiang, China manufactures edible cutlery in attractive colors with new flavours of purple potato, sesame, and corn. Biotrem’s wheat bran tableware production process was invented by Jerzy Wysocki in Poland After only two years commercialising it, Biotrem already produces 15 million pieces a year and they are currently under expansion.

Since 2017, Eclery Foods in Hyderabad, Telangana, India has a fully automated process enabling a capacity of 200,000 spoons per day, which expected to double by November 2018.

In France, former student at the AgroParisTech, Nicolas Richardot, has started up Tassiopée in Normandy, France to manufacture an edible coffee cup, made of biscuit with an inside chocolate coating. As an alternative to plastic cups, once the coffee has been drunk, the cup can be eaten.

In Auckland, New Zealand, the burger chain Better Burger teamed up with Innocent Packaging to create plant-based and compostable packaging for their burgers. The wafer paper packaging made from potato starch and water encouraged their customers to eat everything on their plate, rubbish included. The wrappers are made of potato starch with a taste reported to be similar to a “potato version of a prawn cracker”.

On International Earth Day (April 22, 2018), 500 burgers sold at the chain’s Mount Eden restaurant were wrapped in the material. They even went the distance and used edible ink to brand the packaging, adding their logo and a fun design. Although pitched as a one off activity to raise awareness for the challenges of the environment, since October 2017, Better Burger have saved more than 366,000 plastic items from going to the landfill from its outlets.

What you can do: Stop throwing away single-use cutlery and crockery, try out an edible version.

Tomorrow’s solution: Edible packaging

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Human Effort Materials Planet Care Your Home

117: ecovelopes

Problem:

Traditional manufacture of envelopes were not concerned about the source of their paper nor of the chemical after-effects of their glues.

Solution:

Recyclable and biodegradable automatic insertion envelopes.


In 1997 Emmanuel Druon and a small team set up a factory they called Pocheco in Forest-sur-Marque close to Lille, northern France. Their goal was to manufacture ecovelopes, recyclable and biodegradable automatic insertion envelopes, while creating zero waste during the operation.

Druon based his organisation on “Ecolonomie”, where instead of a hierarchy, there is a four-strong steering committee. Paper is sourced from sustainable managed forests, unbleached and lighter weight, with solvent free ink and glue. The amount of paper waste from envelope cutting is sold and then recycled.

The vegetal roof of the plant hosts several beehives and also recuperates rainwater, which is then used both to dilute ink, clean chines and to supply water for the toilets. This water, polluted by the ink is then sent to a station where it is cleaned by 80 bamboos, then sent back to the building, ready to be used again. Energy from the machines is used to heat the factory, while solar power contributes to electricity.

Before long Pocheco were manufacturing some 2 billion ecovelopes per year. Also part of his Ecolonomie aproach, Druon collaborated with a Finnish paper manufacturers (UPM) so that every time one tree is cut down to make wood pulp , another four are planted in return, working out at 300,000 trees per year.

Pocheco’s Canopée Reforestation: Association for reforestation of the Northern Region of France has seen some 7,000 trees planted since 2009.

In 2019, Adare Post, producers of more than 115 million envelopes with transparent windows, partnered with Pocheco to produce windows made of pulp instead of plastic film. This made these business ecovelopes 100% recyclable and biodegradable, saving some 30 tonnes of plastic landfill waste every year. In the face of internet emails and text messages, Pocheco has also diversified to producing bags for use by pharmacies.

What you can do: Use recyclable and biodegradable envelopes and packages.

Tomorrow’s solution: Sunfire, fuel made from carbon dioxide

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114: Eco-City

Problem:

The history of the Planet is one of unending conflict between creeds, politicians and nations where the world’s resources are plundered indiscriminately.

Solution:

Auroville,: City of Dawn


In the 1960s, Mirra Alfassa, a 90-year-old a spiritual guru, known as “the Mother”, dreamed of a place where humanity can live united, in peace and in harmony with nature, beyond of all beliefs, political opinions and nationalities.

She asked French architect Roger Anger to design an experimental eco-city in Viluppuram district mostly in the state of Tamil Nadu, India with some parts in the Union Territory of Puducherry.

She called it Auroville (“City of Dawn”). The inauguration ceremony of Auroville in 1968 was attended by delegates of 124 nations, who brought soils from all parts of the world. In the mixing of these soils, known as a Yagna began the journey of one-ness.

Endorsed by UNESCO and the Government of India, Auroville is now famous for being known as the most environment friendly and pollution free city of India.

Construction materials used are mainly organic and natural including wood, mud, grass, stabilised earth bricks and fired bricks. In the early 1960s and 70s, a small group of pioneering residents took up extensive tree planting to rejuvenate the barren land and harvest rainwater. There is now a forest of over two million trees and some of them exotic.

Since then, Aurovilians (residents of Auroville) have been constantly experimenting with new ideas and solutions in areas of forestation, organic farming, renewable energy, water management, waste treatment, building technologies and environmental awareness programs among others.

Auroville’s EcoService collects waste from 2/3rd’s of the Aurovilians while the remaining 1/3rd prefer to dispose waste in their own way. 60% of the waste collected is recycled while the rest 40% is land filled. Auroville is working towards a zero waste policy.

In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which was conceived by Alfassa as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection”.

Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquility of the space and the entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called the Peace area. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as “a place to find one’s consciousness”.

Matrimandir is equipped with a solar power plant and is surrounded by manicured gardens. When there is no sun or after the sunset, the sunray on the globe is replaced by a beam from a solar-powered light.

There is a solar kitchen equipped to cook for over 1,000 people everyday primarily uses the energy generated from the largest solar collector in Asia developed and build indigenously at Auroville.

Windmills, mainly used to pump water, are a common sight in Auroville along with many solar power panels that provide energy to almost everything in Auroville, ranging from the street lights to the big town hall. Bicycles or motorised 2-wheelers (and some electric 2-wheelers) can be rented.

As of January 2018 Auroville had 2,814 residents (2,127 adults and 687 children) from 54 countries with two-thirds from India, France and Germany

What you can do: Visit and stay at Auroville and/or apply its solution to your local community.

Tomorrow’s solution: Eco-friendly boat moorings

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Categories
Your Home Human Effort

112: Eat-Lancet commission

Problem:

There is a need to feed a growing global population a healthy diet while also defining sustainable food systems that will minimise damage to our Planet.

Solution:

The EAT-Lancet Commission consists of 37 world-leading scientists from 16 countries from various scientific disciplines, among them Dr Walter Willett of the Harvard Medical School.


The goal of the Commission was to reach a scientific consensus by defining targets for healthy diets and sustainable food production. It proposes an approach to eating that balances the appetites of a growing global population with the increasing fragility of the earth itself.

The EAT-Lancet Commission diet consists of a large amount of vegetables, fruits, whole grain, legumes, nuts and unsaturated oils, some seafood and poultry, and little to no red meat, processed meat, added sugar, refined grains, and starchy vegetables

What you can do: Create a balanced diet for yourself and for those around you.

Tomorrow’s solution: the Ecocapsule  home – producing more energy than it consumes

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Categories
Human Effort Planet Care Your Home

109: Earth Overshoot Day

Problem:

Since 1961, the first year consistent United Nations statistics were available, humanity’s demand on resources has gone from being within the means of what nature could support to significantly over budget. Our planet went into global overshoot in the early 1970s. A symbolic indicator had to be created which would show the world the urgency to find and apply solutions.

Solution:

In themed 1980s, Andrew Simms of the UK think tank New Economics Foundation came up with a smart solution which he called Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) or Ecological Debt Day which marks the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year.


For the rest of the year, by maintaining our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we are operating in overshoot.

In 1990, EOD was October 11, by 2000, it was September 23, by 2019 it was July 29. By 2020, EOD had moved back by more than three weeks to August 22. but only due to the global coronavirus lockdown. Solutions for making it move further back can be found on overshootday.org but also here on 366Solutions.com

What you can do: Keep Earth Overshoot day in the back of your mind for being frugal.

Discover solution 110: early warning system for earthquakes

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