Sustainable design

Graphene – six ways wonder material could improve world sustainability

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Graphene, the “wonder material”, continues to capture the imagination. A honeycomb of carbon atoms so thin it is considered two-dimensional, graphene is stronger than diamond, more electrically conductive than copper and more bendable than rubber.

In the decade since its discovery at the University of Manchester, tens of millions of pounds have been ploughed into researching the material. But efforts to put it to widespread use have been hampered by the expense of producing it at scale and its weaknesses, such as radial cracking.

Yet recently there have been signs that the graphene revolution is entering a new phase. Various scientists, including Shou-En Zhu and Catharina Paukner, are claiming to have discovered methods to bulk manufacture the material. Others are formulating hybrid graphene spin-offs – new substances with special properties of their own.

This would not only make graphene more efficient, it could also make it more durable. And if commercially viable and better adapted, graphene has the potential to reshape the world we live in. Here are six ways graphene could extend the longevity of products.

Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

The Biomimicry Institute and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation are inviting professionals and students from across the world to participate in a Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. Using biomimicry as a tool, participants are invited to tap into nature-inspired solutions to help solve key food and agriculture issues like food waste, food packaging, agricultural pest management, food distribution, energy use, and more. Participants may be featured in high profile media, will have access to biomimicry experts and mentors, and can compete for cash prizes totaling $160,000, including the Ray C. Anderson Foundation $100,000 “Ray of Hope” Prize.

 

This Tiny Vertical Garden Has A Built-In Composter, So You Can Feed It Food Waste

Read the full story in Fast Company.

If you’re a city-dweller living in a small apartment, you probably don’t compost food scraps. Even with a countertop composter, most of us don’t have easy access to a place to put the compost—so it might still end up in the trash (unless you live in a city with mandatory composting).

But if you happen to have a balcony, there’s another option. A simple system from a Dutch designer combines a small vertical garden with a tube for composting, so you can feed kitchen scraps directly to your garden. The garden can grow 20 plants in just inches of floor space.

A Low-Tech System Gives Your Dirty Shower Water A Second Life

Read the full story in Fast Company.

In countries with water shortages, saving every drop is essential. Alberto Vasquez‘s simple method: a low-tech collector that sits on the floor of a shower.

The Gris is made up of four interlocking cells that slope gently down to the center. Water is funneled into one cell at a time, filling each successively. When needed, the cells unhinge so they can be carried away for another use—say, to flush a toilet or irrigate some plants.

Say sayonara to Styrofoam and hello to Mushroom Materials

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

A few years ago, mushrooms were something that accompanied beans and hash browns for breakfast, and even comprised the meat-free substitute in your veggie sausage. Now, you’ll still find mushrooms on your dinner plate, but you’ll also find its derivatives lining your walls and packaging products. Not only that, but you’ll soon be able to grow it yourself.

A Reusable Takeout Container To Replace The Hundreds You Toss Away

Read the full story in Fast Company.

In San Francisco, like most other American cities, many people eat out or order takeout almost five days a week. Unsurprisingly, that adds up to a lot of empty containers—on average, someone who always brings leftovers home might throw out more than 300 boxes in a year.

A new startup hopes to change that pattern. GO Box SF, an offshoot of a company first launched in Portland, Oregon, wants to help every restaurant offer reusable containers instead.