These days, not without reason, we hear a lot of doom and gloom about humanity’s negative impact on the environment. It helps to hear of inspiring and helpful green inventions and innovations that lead the way to a sustainable future for the human family. For example:
French bio-chemist Pierre Calleja designed a lamp powered by bioluminescent green algae that uses no electricity. The algae lives off of the carbon dioxide present in the air. A single lamp can remove a ton of carbon from the air after a year’s use, equivalent to 100 to 150 trees.
Alfred Moser, a Brazilian inventor, confronted with a power outage that shut down his workshop, created a 50 watt bleach solar light bulb from a 2 liter bottle of water, two capfuls of bleach, and a 35mm film canister. Inserted into the roof, exposed to the sun, the bulbs light a room without being hooked up to the grid. Students at MIT later streamlined the invention, and their solar bottle project, A Liter of Light, has already installed thousands of the lamps in the Philippines.
Millions of people around the world sicken or die from water borne diseases contracted from contaminated drinking water. Torben Vestergaard Frandsen invented the Life Straw while trying to find a way to stop worm disease in Africa. It purifies and filters the water as it’s sipped from the straw. The introduction of the device has all but wiped out the disease. Life Straw has helped millions of people since its invention, from vulnerable families without access to clean water, to campers and backpackers in need of a simple water purification system that allows them to drink directly from a source.
While the cityscape often resemble a concrete wasteland, sky gardens or roof gardens utilize the space on top of buildings to create green spaces for workers and residents, and reduce the overall heat absorption of the structures, reducing energy consumption. The Rockefeller Center in Manhattan has a lovely roof garden, as does the Housing Development Board building in Singapore, and the Marriot Hotel in British Columbia, Canada.
Something as simple as a better teapot can improve our lives. Standard stove top kettles waste energy heating the water, and usually heat more water than needed. British designer Brian Hartley’s Eco Kettle measures the exact amount of water required into a separate chamber for heating, and insulates the water to keep it hot, resulting in a 30% energy savings. Leave it to the British to make tea time, green.
Reusable water bottles provide a simple solution to plastic bottle pollution. Many types are available, but a perennial favorite is the bota bag or wineskin, used since ancient times.
Finally, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, an alliance of 50 research organizations, is developing a mobile phone powered by solar cells needing only two hours of sunlight each day.
Every innovation, no matter how small, is a step toward a better, more sustainable future, and a reminder that human hope and creativity are renewable energies of positive change.