As we noted in a recent post, consumers care about buying items from socially responsible brands more than they ever have before. But caring about something doesn’t always translate into action.
There are a lot of roads just sitting there in the sun, doing nothing with all that energy. Why not use them to collect it? Introducing the Solar Roadway, a road built out of solar panels.
The road is made of three parts: a hard-wearing translucent top-layer with the solar cells, LED lights (for road markings) and a heating element (to keep off snow and ice); an electronics layer to control lighting and communications; and a base plate layer that distributes power to nearby homes and businesses (and perhaps electric vehicle charging stations). Plus, there’s a channel at the edge to collect and filter run-off water (including anti-freeze and other chemicals that normally leeches into the ground).
Famous Foodies Imagine Dinner Plates From The Future
Food & Wine sent out white paper plates to some of the greatest food thinkers of our time—along with architects, artists, and designers and asked them to imagine the food of the future.
Gardens vs. Factories, by Jono Pandolfi
Genetic modification gone too far (but vegetables are even easier to match).
Food of the Future for the 1% by Anthony Bourdain.
Pharm to Table by AvroKo.
Dirty Dishes by Gail Simmons. “We can no longer feign naivety at the connection of food and the environment.”
But laughs aside, the undertones here are often quite serious. Following an era of ultimate abundance and globalized food, we’re faced with a deteriorating climate, overfished oceans, and an industrial farming system that’s inflexibly configured for monoculture. In other words, we’d better stock up on edible 3-D printer cartridges, or start getting used to the texture of antenna.
Building A Cell Phone That Doesn’t Kill People
he FairPhone is made with fairly mined minerals, built under good labor conditions, and is entirely recyclable—all things your current phone probably isn’t.
Bas van Abel leads an innovative electronics company. But, unlike Apple or Samsung, he’s not particularly interested in the latest voice activation or finger-swiping technology. No. He’s keener to see disruption in the back-end: in the mines producing minerals like tin and tantalum, the factories that make phones, and the systems that recycle them.
You Can’t Tell That This New, Cheap Egg Substitute Is Made From Plants
To keep a growing world population filled with nutrients, startups like Beyond Eggs are finding new ways of making protein that don’t involve the resource intensity of raising animals. Here comes the Protein Economy.
“…don’t imagine that just because we’re in trouble today means we’ll be in double-trouble tomorrow. Science will come to the rescue—and not in the shape of yet more antibiotics, and ever more industrial food-production processes. What these innovators are talking about are completely new ways of making food, and particularly protein: growing it in a laboratory or engineering it from plants, because it’s too harmful (and expensive) to produce the “natural way.”“
Sound disgusting? Maybe. But perhaps you haven’t seen the insides of a battery chicken shed recently, or imagined how much more antibiotics we’ll have to use as the world nears 9 billion. “Our food system is abysmally broken,” says Josh Tetrick, CEO of San Francisco-based Hampton Creek Foods, maker of the Beyond Eggs egg-substitute. “It’s not about the morality of eating animals or not. It’s about the conditions that a lot of these animals are raised in. These hens are kept inside a cage for two years, pumped full of feed and antibiotics, and it’s just cruel. We don’t all have to stop eating eggs. But we should ask if we want to participate in that.”
Tetrick’s team has deconstructed the egg, analyzed its 22 special functions, and replicated it with plant-stuffs like sunflower lecithin, canola, peas, and natural gums from tree sap. By all accounts, the substitute tastes just like the real thing—even if it doesn’t look like it. It’s sold as a gray-green powder that you need to hydrate before use.
Tetrick, who eats only plant-based food himself, insists he’s not on an anti-meat crusade. He applauds that companies like Chipotle are turning to sustainable sources of meat.
The main idea is to replace the eggs currently used to make things like mayonnaise, ranch dressing, and factory-made muffins or cookies (i.e. not your Sunday fry-up). That’s about a third of the 79 billion eggs laid in the U.S. every year.
At the moment, Hampton has two major Fortune 500 customers—one of which plans to market that its products are egg-free, and another that wants to keep the fact quiet for now. “We’re just removing the eggs that we have an issue with. We don’t care if they want to just save money. That’s fine,” he says. Beyond Eggs is 18% cheaper than battery-produced eggs.
Tetrick sees a smaller retail business selling to vegans, and the cholesterol-conscious. Beyond Eggs will be available online in the next two weeks, and probably from major retailers after that.
Beyond that, he wants to feed people who are likely to go hungry without interventions in the protein supply system. “I think the reason people like Bill Gates are interested in this is that the world population is expanding to 9 billion, and people are going to need good cheap sources of protein. Some of the economics of meat production, particularly around feed, aren’t good.”
Here’s more on this topic:
Cause and Effect: Visualizing Sustainability (Gestalten, 2012) showcases the campaigns, posters, digital media, and guerrilla marketing that have the power to change not only how we think about the environment, but also what we do about it. The thesis is simple: The more elegant the delivery, the more receptive we are to the message.
Architects Danny Mui and Benjamin Sahagun have come up with a novel concept: buildings that scrub CO2 emissions from the air.
Dream of the Floating World: “HavvAda” is Dror Benshetrit’s proposal for a man-made, hilly island city off the coast of Istanbul. The hills would be comprised of geodesic domes which boasted residences on their surfaces, and commercial spaces inside.
The man-made mechanical forest, five years in the making, consists of 18 supertrees that act as vertical gardens, generating solar power, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collecting rainwater. To generate electricity, 11 of the trees are fitted with solar photovoltaic systems that provide lighting and assist with water flow in the conservatories below.
In the 35 years since a cardigan-clad Jimmy Carter called on America to turn down the thermostat, the technology behind household climate control hasn’t changed much. Sure, there were some incremental improvements, but the world’s brightest minds weren’t exactly set on revolutionizing your A/C. After all, it’s far sexier to build smartphones, right?
Not to Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, who left Apple’s iPod and iPhone development division in 2010 to start Nest, a technology company working to bring thermostats into the 21st century.
“At that time, we already started our interaction with Apple and it was just after I had my meeting with them in Cupertino. I do feel that they have changed mindset on this issue, because at the end of our long meeting they said, “We need some kind of transparency over our supply chain management.” That was something I never heard before. Since then, we’ve had further communications and discussion. They reported back about some of the progress made in checking up on their suppliers that we cited in our report. They also created timelines to fix all their problems.”
“We are told ceaselessly that sustainable or organic agriculture cannot feed the world. I find this claim very hard to understand.”
It’s surprising that more people aren’t talking about this. We’ve reported on the Starbucks Cup Dilemma in the past, and it’s clear that corporate sustainability has serious limits. Even in this showdown between Starbucks and McDonald’s Starbucks barely edged out MickeyD’s when it came to measuring impact on our Earth. Entering the juice-bar market may seem like it makes good business sense, but is it a smart solution for our planet?
Wake Up Call of the Day: According to Starbucks’ sustainability director Jim Hanna, the coffeehouse chain may soon be unable to sell its principal product due to the detrimental impact of climate change on coffee bean production.
“What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean,” Hanna told the Guardian in a phone interview.
Hanna is set to speak before members of Congress today on the issue of climate change and how it’s real and how someone should do something about it before we run out of coffee and chocolate and a whole bunch of other foodstuffs “many people can’t live without.”
Starbucks has already put Plan B in motion, announcing yesterday it plans to enter the juice-bar market — news that freaked out Jamba Juice stockholders, causing the price of JMBA to drop 3.5%.
Today’s congressional event is sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which recently reported that coffee brands have increased the cost of grinds by as much as 25% over the last year.
“The dwindling supply of coffee is but one example of the many impacts to come due to climate change,” the nonprofit writes, ” and should be a wake-up call for us all.”