It’s hard to believe that only a few decades ago we fell into the trap of thinking “disposable” equated to “cool.” We also had an attitude that nature was inexhaustible, messy, and probably needed to be tamed. Times certainly have changed, and from engineers to householders, to small businesses, doing what we can to go easy on the environment has become something we all wished we’d started doing long ago. This awareness has led to some pretty ingenious solutions and ideas. Let’s explore some examples that range from the super-serious to the cute and fun.
1. Tunnels Without the Disturbance
Have you heard about microtunneling? Modern-day life means having access to a great many infrastructure services, most of which come from tunnels that run for miles beneath the surface. Not too long ago, the solution was diggers and a huge mess – not exactly good when sensitive areas were traversed. Now, specialized machinery can dig microtunnels with very little need for surface disturbance. It’s one of those jaw-dropping technologies that few of us are aware of but that are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
2. Trawling Away The Oceans’ Garbage Patches
Massive “islands” of floating plastic are threatening sea-life and the health of the planet is heavily dependent on the health of its oceans. A non-profit organization has come up with a simple yet effective way to clean up floating debris in rivers and in the sea. Will this huge cleanup come cheap? Sadly, it won’t. Support their work if you can.
3. Edible Water Bottles
Stopping the plastic problem at its source would certainly be a big advance. One of the top culprits in plastic pollution, water bottles, may be taking on an edible spin. For now, they consist of coated spheres of water. Pop one in your mouth, bite down, and enjoy a fresh, guilt-free draught of water. Now, we just need to see a similar level of ingenuity being applied to other types of food packaging.
4. Chewing Gum Sneakers
Continuing our journey from the large-scale engineering project to the products that ordinary people use almost every day, we have a truly intriguing idea from the Netherlands: chewing gum sneakers! Instead of using plastics and newly manufactured synthetic rubber, one company has found a way to make rubber from used chewing gum. While the global impact will likely be a small one, this type of ingenuity deserves a big thumbs up!
5. Drowned Bicycle Bottle Openers
Another rather fun idea from the Netherlands, we have drowned bicycle bottle openers! It seems that the Dutch, or at least some of them, have been disposing of old bicycles in canals. A local gin producer has decided to cash in – and clean up the canals – by using bicycle parts to make its own eco-friendly bottle openers.
From Mega-Projects to Upcycled Products: Every Bit Helps
Can you add your two cents to global efforts that benefit the environment? Whether you’re an inventor with grand schemes or an ordinary citizen, you can help to make a difference. Reduce, reuse, recycle – and do a bit extra on top of that. Looking for an idea? Why not organize a riverside cleanup or hit the beach with your garbage bags and a few friends. Every bit helps!