So, what’s going well?
With all the latest news on climate change, it can be easy to be worried about the environment. The large number of protests, as well as activists such as Greta Thunberg, have brought to attention the fact that we need to start looking after this planet better. All you have to do is look at photos ten years apart to see that our attitudes have to change. However, it is important to recognise that not everything has gone completely wrong, and that actually changes are being made that are pushing us back in the right direction. So here are some projects that are going on that the moment that show that some people are really trying to make a difference, and that sustainable living is becoming easier and easier.
- An American startup company called ‘PURETi’ has created a way to clean surfaces that also reverses air pollution. The product they’ve created uses titanium dioxide coated vinyl to purify the air nearby. When the coating is touched by ultra-violet light, the titanium dioxide gains energy, which then speeds up the oxidation of gases such as nitrogen oxide, and other greenhouses gases. The product can be sprayed onto all sorts of surfaces both inside and out. The added bonus is that once sprayed, you don’t need to do it again for another five years! It also means surfaces have to be cleaned less frequently, so it saves water too.
- A company in Hong Kong called ‘Dyelicious’ has started turning food waste into dyes used in clothes and other products by using a process known as ‘natural food dyeing’. Not only is this reducing food waste, but the dyes that the company make can decompose naturally and so don’t create any pollution. ‘Dyelicious’ is currently working with big brands like Zara, Adidas and Starbucks to reduce their carbon footprints. And if this isn’t enough for you, Dyelicious is also working with schools to persuade them to swap chemical paints for non-toxic products.
- An invisible edible (tasteless) film is being developed to preserve the shelf life of food. The film is made of natural substances that can double the shelf life of apples. It does this by creating a barrier that slows down microbial growth. It has been tested on a variety of produce, and has supposedly worked very well. The film will hopefully have FDA approval by 2020.
- Adidas have developed running shoes that are 100% recyclable! ‘Futurecraft Loop’ shoes (crazy name, I know) are made out of reusable thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), and don’t have any glue involved. Once they have been completely worn out by the owner, they can be sent down to Adidas. The shoes are then washed, ground down into pellets, and then melted so that they be made part of a new pair of shoes. Executive board member Eric Liedtke said ‘Taking plastic waste out of the system is the first step, but we can’t stop there. Our dream is that you can keep wearing the same shoes over and over again.’ The shoes are said to meet the same performance standards of all other Adidas shoes. The line of shoes is currently being tested in a beta program, but a release to the public is planned for the spring/summer of 2021.
- H&M are working with three companies: BLOOM Foam, Orange Fiber and Piñatex to make textiles out of food waste. BLOOM Foam uses algae biomass to make a flexible, lightweight material used in shoe soles. Orange Fiber uses discarded orange peels from citrus juice production to create an environmentally-friendly alternative to silk. And Piñatex uses the leaves of pineapples, an agricultural waste product, for a vegan leather. The collection came out in April, and whilst some people view this as a publicity stunt, others say that actually as a high profile brand, it’s a good thing they’re raising awareness. The clothes are not recyclable, due to the way they’ve been chemically treated, but it does reduce food waste, which I believe to be a step in the right direction.
- On the 30th May, the first rubbish collection competition took place in Marseille. The aim of this was to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. 20 teams (with 2 swimmers and 2 kayakers) aimed to collect 8kg of waste from the sea. Several professional athletes took place, like Coralie Balmy (olympic swimming champion) and Muriel Urtis (world athletics champion). Each team paid €140 to enter, and all the money was donated to various environmental causes.
- Coral Vita have found a way to revive the dying coral reefs. The founders of the company believe coral can be grown 50 times faster on land, rather than in ocean-based nurseries. By using a method called micro-fragmentation, coral is broken up into small pieces that then fuse back together. The process is believed to take 6-12 months, which in comparison to the current process, which takes 30-50 years, is very impressive.
Whilst there is undoubtedly a long way to go, recognising where things have gone well is important, as previous success can act as a driving force to achieving bigger and better things. So keep your hopes up, we’ve got time to make a difference, as long as we act now.