There’s no doubt that when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint, there’s still a long way to go. In fact, 2019’s Earth Day came on the tail of the fourth warmest year in the National Centers for Environmental Information's 139-year record. In June of 2017, the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Agreement, a climate change deal with the goal of slowing down global warming by restricting greenhouse gas emissions. (Just one of the many environmentally-unfriendly rollbacks under the current administration, according to the New York Times.) On top of that, deadly hurricanes and tropical storms have devastated Puerto Rico, Houston, parts of Florida, and multiple Caribbean islands.
On the other side, an increasing number of big businesses are heralding change and bringing eco-friendly inventions to the masses. Case in point: Furniture mega-brand IKEA's sustainable home décor line to help us “live a little kinder” while food services like Kore Kitchen make eating responsibly sourced food a little bit easier. So, what does a greener future look like? We’ve found five genius eco-friendly inventions that could revolutionize our lives and environmental impact in the future. Here’s a glimpse at what’s to come.
Living a 100% zero-waste lifestyle may be quiet a challenge, but switching to a reusable cup or bottle is the simplest way to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics. Berlin-based company Kaffeeform has taken it one step further with its line of coffee cups, which are made from recycled coffee grounds and renewable plant-based materials. In addition to keeping your old java leftovers out of the landfill via sleek design, the BPA-free cups — which are available in the Weducer, espresso, cappuccino, and milchkaffee sizes — are also completely recyclable.
Using a plastic fork every time you get takeout might seem innocent enough, but according to research, your habit has a serious consequence. To solve the problem, Bocado Edible Spoons created cutlery you can eat with your meal. Let us pause here for effect while that sinks in. Available in sweet, savory, or unflavored varieties, the spoons are made from rice, wheat, and water so that after you’ve used them to consume your meal, you can finish off the cutlery as well. They have a shelf life of three years and decompose after four days if used but not eaten. You may never have to do the dishes again.
Precious Plastic, a series of automated machines that turn plastic into household items, could well change the way you recycle and decorate your home. The creator is Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, the man behind Phonebloks, which inspired Google’s modular phone. Aimed at making plastic recycling more accessible, the machines shared waste then melt and mold the pieces into usable items, including geometric tumblers and nest-like pendant lights.
The team at Skipping Rocks Lab has created a genius solution to the world’s mounting plastic bottle crisis. Ooho is a thin, translucent seaweed sleeve that can hold liquid. It’s completely biodegradable and can be eaten, too. This little ball is said to be durable enough to not tear unless you want to break into it. The goal? To eliminate the use of plastic bottles altogether.
You might not have given much thought to a discarded toothbrush or floss harp, but Earth-conscious company Goodwell points out that those plastic items go straight into a landfill. Its latest invention, GoodFloss, takes the guilt out of one-use harps. The smart design is made from a blend of biodegradable material and comes in a set of four, which is the same size and shape as a credit card, so it fits in your wallet for easy on-the-go flossing.
If you thought air pollution was only an outdoor or big-city issue, a Harvard study disproves that assumption. Researchers found that the carbon dioxide levels inside buildings pose a real threat and impact our ability to concentrate and make decisions. Enter AgroSci, a company that creates green walls of living, thriving plants to cleanse the air of pollutants and naturally reduce noise and heat. The company has a patent-pending system that magnifies the purifying ability of plants and claims that a 300-plant wall has the cleaning capacity of 60,000 houseplants.
Looking for more eco-friendly products? Shop our edit of the best green gifts.
This story was originally published on April 22, 2016, and has since been updated.