Which cities are doing the most to become the sustainable, connected, innovative city of the future? Read Co.Exit’s list of the 10 Smartest Cities in North America. How much brainpower does your city have?
In Seattle, homegrown solutions are changing how people get water
Somewhere in Green Island, New York, there is a tiny wood-framed house filled with mushroom insulation…
Up until now, the makers of this innovative little building at Ecovative Design have specialized in packaging products, but now they are focusing their efforts on building materials."The aim is to replace all plastic foams anywhere we can," says Ecovative Design’s Sam Harrington.
American cities across the nation are improving their infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians. Some are doing it better than others. Right now, the top 5 states for biking and walking are:
“Mexico City is encouraging citizens to trade recyclable materials for fresh food. The Mercado de Trueque market accepts glass, paper, cardboard, aluminium cans and PET plastic bottles, and returns green points which are redeemable for agricultural products grown in and around Mexico City.”
Plastics like styrofoam currently take up between 25%-30% of our landfill space, and a single cubic foot of styrofoam has the same energy content as about one and a half liters of gasoline.
College pals Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre established Ecovative, which grows cost-effective alternatives to plastic insulation and packaging. While they were students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bayer and McIntyre experimented with mycelium, the network of vegetative filaments in mushrooms, and realized that it could be used to form incredibly strong bonds. Essentially, the substance functions like a glue that you can grow and use to form agricultural byproducts like plant stalks and seed husks into natural alternatives to styrofoam packaging and insulation.
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: