There’s no doubt that when it comes to reducing our environmental footprint, there’s still a long way to go. In fact, the year 2019 was among the top three warmest years in the National Centers for Environmental Information's almost 150-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 Trump 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 flip 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 offerings 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 six 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 quite 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 cups—which are available in the Weducer, espresso, and cappuccino
sizes—are also completely recyclable. Worn-out cups can be returned to the company, which then uses them to make new cups, completing the cycle!
Using a plastic fork every time you get takeout might seem innocent enough, but according to research, your habit has serious health consequences. 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. These ingenious spoons are made from wheat, water and olive oil, so after you’ve used them to consume your meal, you can finish off the cutlery as well. You may never have to do the dishes again.
They have a shelf life of three years and decompose after four days if used, but not eaten.
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 shred waste, then melt and mold the pieces into usable items, including geometric tumblers and nest-like pendant lights.
Edible Water Bottles
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. One of its latest inventions, GoodFloss, takes the guilt out of one-use harps. The smart design is made from a blend of biodegradable materials 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 2012 medical study disproves that assumption. Researchers found that carbon dioxide levels inside buildings can pose a real threat and may 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.
Climate Change: Global Temperature. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. August 14, 2020
Jiang B, Kauffman AE, Li L, et al. Health Impacts of Environmental Contamination of Micro- and Nanoplastics: A Review. Environ Health Prev Med. 2020;25(1):29. doi:10.1186/s12199-020-00870-9
Satish U, Mendell MJ, Shekhar K, et al. Is CO2 an Indoor Pollutant? Direct Effects of Low-to-Moderate CO2 Concentrations on Human Decision-Making Performance. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2012;120(12):1671-1677. doi:10.1289/ehp.1104789