7 Green Innovations That Are Changing the Way We Do Business
While we as individuals can do a lot of good by practicing our three R's—reduce, reuse, recycle—we can't do it alone. Innovation—from sustainable transportation to revolutionary battery storage device—plays a tremendous role in making positive and long-lasting change to protect our precious planet.
Check out these seven innovation that are changing the way we do business:
1. Vertical Farming
Food deserts, in which a whole neighborhood is far removed from grocery stores that sell healthy food, are a big issue in communities here and around the world. Due to the lack of fresh food, people eat fast food or pre-packaged goods that are inexpensive but high in fat, calories and sugar, and could lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
However, sky-high farms are sprouting up around the world in places were where traditional agriculture would have been impossible. In places such as perpetually wintry Jackson, Wyoming, forward-thinking planners are developing a three-story hydroponic greenhouse called The Vertical Harvest that can produce more than 37,000 pounds of greens, 4,400 pounds of herbs and 44,000 pounds of tomatoes a year. This means eating a nutritious and sustainable meal could be easy as looking up.
Not only can vertical farms defy any weather, they also adapt to disaster and can even help save lives, such as Caliber Biotherapeutics in Bryan, Texas that's growing tobacco-like plants in vertical farms to make new drugs and vaccines.
2. 3D Printing
This emerging technology has been touted as solution to many of the planet's pressing problems. The Perpetual Plastic Project aims to turn recycled plastic bottles, cups and other stuff that too often ends up in landfills into 3D printing filament. In the U.S., plastics make up nearly 13 percent of the municipal solid waste stream.
Additionally, Michigan Technological University's first-ever mobile, solar-powered 3D printer can create whole range of printed-products: wind turbines, hand-cranked power generators, medical braces, breast pumps, prosthetic leg covers, water spouts and more. The fact that it can be done at a fraction of the cost and in light speed is especially crucial to undeveloped nations with unreliable access to electricity. In Haiti, the nonprofit organization Field Ready is working on printing umbilical cord clamps in less than eight minutes.
Other innovators are even using 3D printers to create nutritious food to help reduce the global food waste crisis and the company Pembient is using 3D printing to make fake rhino horns to stop poaching and save the rhino from going extinct!
3. Battery Storage
For the future to be good, we need electric transport, solar power and (of course) ... pic.twitter.com/8mwVWukQDL
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2015
In order to curb our reliance on dirty fossil fuels that drive climate change, it's important that we untether from Big Power. That's why it was so revolutionary when Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently unveiled a suite of batteries that can store electricity for homes, businesses and utilities in an ambitious mission to provide pollution-free energy.
“Our goal here is to fundamentally change the way the world uses energy,” Musk told Bloomberg. “We’re talking at the terawatt scale. The goal is complete transformation of the entire energy infrastructure of the world.”
We also reported that sister company SolarCity is now offering Tesla’s new batteries at a price point that’s more than 60 percent less than previous solar power storage products.
4. Emission-Free Transportation
Is North America experiencing a biking renaissance? Americans are driving less, more cities are encouraging people to bike and electric bikes sales are soaring. We here at EcoWatch have seen a lot of amazing two-or-three-wheelers lately—from cargo bikes to this Segway with pedals—but one of our recent favorites is the "Solar Bike" created by Danish solar engineer Jesper Frausig that's powered by the clean, green energy of the sun.
Another cool electric bike we've seen is the “Adam” concept bike with a detachable battery/speakers/navigation unit/power outlet on the handlebar that works—and looks like—a perfectly normal bicycle when the battery pack is taken off.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
With parts of the planet perilously low on fresh water, a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Jain Irrigation Systems have come up with a method of turning brackish water into drinking water using renewable energy. This solar-powered machine is able to pull salt out of water and further disinfect the water with ultraviolet rays, making it suitable for irrigation and drinking.
The technology recently won the top $140,000 Desal Prize from the U.S. Department of Interior that recognizes innovators who create cost-effective, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable desalination technologies that can provide potable water for humans and water for crops in developing countries.
6. Ocean Plastic Cleanup
Plastic is a major threat to marine life and marine ecosystems and also causes about $13 billion in damages to marine ecosystems each year. To solve this daunting issue, Boyan Slat, a 20-year-old former aerospace engineering student, has an ambitious plan to clean half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in a decade with his Ocean Cleanup, project. The project involves a static platform that passively corrals plastics as wind and ocean currents push debris through V-shaped booms. Floating filters then catch all the plastic off the top three meters of water where the concentration of plastic is the highest, while allowing fish and other marine life to pass under without getting caught. Some have described the project as the "world’s first feasible concept to clean the oceans of plastic."
A related honorable mention goes to sportswear company Adidas for developing shoes and clothes made from trash that is recovered from the ocean. The sportswear giant will also phase out plastic bags in its 2,900 retail stores around the world.
7. Zero-emission buildings
Did you know that 41 percent of the country’s total energy consumption comes from residential and commercial buildings? That's why this green building movement is so brilliant—net-zero buildings produce at least as much energy as it uses (if not much more).
Archiblox, an Australian architecture firm, unveiled the world’s first carbon-positive prefabricated home. The Archi+ Carbon Positive House, is so efficient it can put energy back on the grid. Over on our shores, southern California’s North Fontana area will be home to the state’s first Zero Net Energy community consisting of at least 20 zero net energy homes.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus?
- How to Stop Touching Your Face to Minimize Spread of Coronavirus ... ›
- Vodka Won't Protect You From Coronavirus, and 4 Other Things to ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
- 41% of UK Species Have Declined Since 1970, Major Report Finds ... ›
- One in Eight Bird Species Threatened With Extinction, Study Finds ... ›
- Pesticides to Blame for UK's Declining Turtle Dove Population ... ›
We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.
Life-sized, ultra-realistic robotic dolphins could help end animal captivity by replacing living creatures in aquariums and theme parks.
- Keeping Large Mammals Captive Damages Their Brains - EcoWatch ›
- Scientists Combine AI With Biology to Create Xenobots, the World's ... ›
- Singapore Uses 'Scary' Robot Dog to Enforce Social Distancing ... ›
By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.