First established by the United Nations in 1972, World Environment Day takes place on June 5th every year to raise awareness of the myriad environmental issues with which we’ve become all too familiar. This year, the focus is on #BeatPlasticPollution. Globally, a shocking 500 billion disposable plastic bags are used every year, with a further million plastic drinking bottles being purchased every minute. Although companies like One Water are addressing this issue with ‘One Less Bottle’, 50% of the plastic we use is single use. The innovations below show some of the most forward-thinking environmental innovations to date, followed up with a few easy tips on how you can do your bit in the fight against plastic.
Between 3rd-4th May this year, Ecover opened up ‘The Rubbish Café’ pop-up in Covent Garden. In order to highlight how wasteful single-use plastics are and their devastating impact on the environment, customers could order delicious food from a zero-waste menu in exchange for recyclable plastic waste.
The ‘Rubbish Café, is part of the Belgian company’s ‘Clean World Revolution’. By 2020, Ecover intends to on make their products from 100% recyclable plastics – as all businesses should.
A CHANGE FOR CHANGE
While switching up logos is nothing new, in an age where social media is so closely integrated into people’s daily lives it has more potential impact than ever before. Whether it be brands putting their hands up when they make a mistake (see KFC’s FCK up) or McDonald’s flipping their Golden Arches on their head to stand in solidarity with feminism on International Women’s Day, my personal favourite is Lacoste and The International Union for Conservation’s ‘Save Our Species’ campaign.
Launched on March 1st during Paris Fashion Week in a joint effort to raise awareness and funds to protect ten of the world’s most endangered species, Lacoste replaced their iconic crocodile on 1,775 limited edition polo-shirts, retailing at $185 each. The number of each series of shirt produced reflected the global population of each species, ranging from a mere 450 Anegada’s ground iguanas to just 30 critically endangered vaquitas (small porpoises found in the north of the Gulf of California).
“It’s a great start and I’m hoping it’s just the beginning and inspires other companies to follow suit…Maybe Jaguar will do something for jaguars.”
(Jeff Corwin in CNN interview, 2018)
Although the t-shirts have sold out, you can still help the cause by donating here.
APP FIGHTS FOOD INSECURITY
As most of us are aware, there is a worrying imbalance between agricultural productivity and population growth. There are approximately one billion people that are chronically food insecure, and it’s only set to get worse. Responsible for around a third of current yield loss are pests and disease.
In response to this, Saillog’s app, Agrio, enables farmers to identify and treat their crop’s diseases and pests. All the user has to do is upload a photo of the diseased plant so that the app’s artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm can automate disease identification. Diagnosis can either be received within seconds, or alternatively, photos can be shared with a team of experts who advise on the best treatment methods.
CANDY CRUSH DAYS ARE WELL AND TRULY OVER
Unfortunately, like many rivers globally, the Chicago River is polluted with rubbish that damages the ecosystem and makes the body of water unsafe for swimmers. In light of this, Chicago start-up Urban Rivers launched a Kickstarter (which has since been fully funded) to develop a floating robot that uses a mesh net to clean up rubbish from the river. The difference? Urban Rivers made the river clean-up a fun, interactive and global experience. Anyone in the world can have a first-person ‘shooter view’ and control the river robot if they have internet access. After waste collection, the robot is driven to a zone where Urban Rivers volunteers remove the rubbish collected for disposal, before sending it back into the water. Could gamification be the answer to any other environmental endeavours?
L’EAU DE STENCH
Does anyone else open their food bin, take a whiff of the decaying fruit and wish you smelled the same? No, me neither. Somehow, Ogilvy Paris and Etat Libre d’Orange teamed up and reflected on the exorbitant amount of waste created within the perfume industry and by society, defied convention and concocted a perfume that lands this autumn. Quoting from the advert, the new scent (with notes of mouldy fruit and earthworms) ‘I Am Trash or Les Fleurs Du Déchet’ is “the most wanted scent, made from our unwanted” (side note: why is the French name for something always so much sexier?!).
Whilst I struggle to imagine a desirable scent that stems from rotting remains, I genuinely hope it will be. Primarily, in interest of further developing society’s mindset on the planet and how it is not a bottomless pit of resource.
“Trash is normally not regarded as beautiful. But with ‘I Am Trash,’ beauty is found in waste. Taking the old and reinventing it to be new again. In a different form. A thing of beauty.”
(Ogilvy’s Emmanuel Ferry, 2018)
Plus, I’m ALL for a different sort of perfume ad. One which doesn’t make you question the watershed or induce déjà vu. Watch the ad for “Les Fleurs du Déchet” here.
BRING YOUR TYRES TO LIFE
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “more than 80% of people who live in air pollution-measured urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits”.
With a view of addressing this, on March 6th this year, Goodyear’s ‘Oxygene’ concept tyre was introduced at the Geneva International Motor Show – literally bringing a cleaner, more sustainable urban mobility to life. The smart tyre has a unique, open structure and a smart tread design that absorbs and circulates CO2 from the air and water from the road surface to feed the moss embedded in its side wall. This allows photosynthesis to occur within the tire, converting the O2 and water into oxygen for us to breathe.
“In a city similar in size to greater Paris with about 2.5 million vehicles, this would mean generating nearly 3,000 tons of oxygen and absorbing more than 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year” (Goodyear, 2018)
ELECTRIC CARS? THAT’S SO 2017
As it stands, one of the major setbacks of electric cars, is the – to be frank – shit charge times. For example, even accredited Tesla’s standard home charger takes on just 20 miles for each hour charged, so even if you leave it overnight, you won’t get far.
This April, the sustainable, cost-effective and globally unique eRoadArlanda was opened. The road is a Swedish innovation that allows existing public roads to be electrified so that vehicles can be recharged while driving. Not only does this take us a step closer to clean transport but addresses the charge-anxiety that currently exists with stand-alone electric cars. The electrified road puts conductive technology into practice and works by a moveable arm detecting the location of the vehicle above the rail and transferring energy. You can read more about the technology and practicality of it here.
In the meantime, let’s pray that Apple doesn’t ever decide to make an electric car, otherwise we’ll be out of juice in under a minute (unless you purchase the iCar adapter for £50,940). The fight to balance billions of people’s day-to-day life with the environment and wildlife is concerning, but there is hope. If every single one of us does our bit and spreads the word, we can do it. But there is no time to waste, reduce your use of single-use plastics today with the easy tips below.