The innovations that unleash the power of design in order to create a sustainable and fair world

Jun 27, 2024 | News

Is it possible for us to redesign our products to be in harmony and balance with nature? Creatives and entrepreneurs from all over the world answer the Redesign Everything Challenge with a resounding ‘yes’

Many of us can reduce the conversation about recycling to what can or cannot be placed in a weekly collection container. To solve the multitude of issues that contribute to the climate crises, we must be more bold.

This is the idea behind the Redesign Everything Challenge this year, organised by the international organisation What Design Can Do. More than 500 designers responded to the call with their most creative climate solutions. They redesigned everything from electronics and clothing.

The Revival

Yayra AGBOFAH, social entrepreneur and founder of The Revival is of the opinion that clothes are like a second skin. He says: “I believe clothing is more than fabric. It’s part of you. If something is like your second skin, because it’s so close to your skin, soul, and heart, then you should be able to have a relationship. Our industry is lacking in this area. “We just buy, consume and throw away.”

Fast fashion is a worldwide challenge. Agbofah, based in Ghana, receives 15m garments every week. Of these, 40% are thrown away. The issue is huge: the landfills are full, harmful chemicals leak into the waterways, and air pollution increases as waste is burnt.

The upcycling programs, which are based on education, awareness, and art, have already saved 1m items. Agbofah says it’s important to help participants understand the process, and then incorporate their ideas into designs. “That is where ownership comes from.” The pride is there .”

He has big plans for The Revival, but he is not blind to the challenges that lie ahead: “It’s all hands on Deck.” This is the only way to win this battle. You must make sacrifices .”

Images: The Revival

Building marine habitats – Reef Rocket

Mary Lempres, a designer from California, describes her childhood as being surrounded with nature. “I was always watching oysters and clams fix themselves to rocks. It was amazing because the waves were crashing on them and salt water is corrosive. I would wonder: “How is nature capable of doing this ?'”

She says, “I’ve always drawn a lot inspiration from there.” Reef Rocket is a spaceship shaped structure made of a unique concrete that was created using plant enzymes. It also contains real oyster shells collected from local restaurants as waste.

When placed in the water, Reef Rocket imitates natural reefs that oysters have grown over millennia. The oyster can attach itself to Reef Rocket as it would to a natural coral reef and continue growing the structure.

Lempres explains that oyster shells are the ideal medium for restoring oysters, because they grow their reefs attaching themselves to other shells. Nature is full of genius. Just look at what nature has already done to us. .”

Nature is full of genius. Nature has already done a lot of research and development for us.

The idea behind the small-scale test in New York Harbor is to restore natural habits that have been depleted. This helps to reduce coastal erosion and flooding, while oysters filter the water. The reefs are also a unique habitat for fish and increase biodiversity.

Lempres believes that the solution to any problem must be tailored to the local context. “The idea is thinking on a global level about these global challenges while solving problems at a local level.”

Reef Rocket

Looop Can – Relieving period Poverty

Margaret Wu, one of the co-founders of the startup, explains that Looop Can is “basically like a small washing machine or a cleaning device.” It limits the amount resources, space, and water needed to wash a reusable (sanitary) pad in a traditional setting.

The small orange can can wash a reusable towel with just 500ml of liquid, using only buoyancy force, soaking time, and a little baking soda.

The duo hopes that the product will not only help in areas with a lack of water, but also ease financial pressures on refugee camps. The cans are designed with this in mind and are meant to last at least five years.

Cheuk Laam is the co-founder and designer of the product. His mission is simple: We want to create a future where no one will have to choose between food and sanitary products. This is especially important for places with limited resources. We don’t wish to burden people with .”

Wu hopes that this can be a start to a larger movement to empower women by providing education, eradicating stigma and providing reusable products. The team wants to work with existing reusable pad providers to combine them with Looop Can as well as explore postpartum products. She says, “We’re really thinking big.” “I can imagine Looop Can as a well-rounded, comprehensive solution that goes beyond period poverty .”

Images – Looop Can

Creating compostable devices – Electric Skin

Imagine never having to charge your phone ever again. Your devices would generate their own electricity, thanks to the biomaterials they are made of, which produce electricity from the humidity in air. Electric Skin is exploring this technology, which sounds futuristic.

The team’s fully biodegradable designs, inspired by a 2020 paper entitled The Mud Is Electric (The Mud Is Electric), are powered by a bacterium that produces electrical proteins naturally. It uses pili, the hair-like structure on the Geobacter sulfurreducens bacteria. These proteins can be linked together to form nanowires which can generate an electrical charge by using the moisture around them.

Since then, they have been prototyping the protein and growing it in a laboratory. Paige Perillat Piratoine, co-founder of the company, explains that they grow bacteria and extract just the protein. They then drop this on a material placed between two electrodes in order to generate electricity.

Not only is this material, which they call ‘electric skin’, both growable and compostable, it would also cut out the need for mining metals such as lithium and cobalt, which are widely used in almost all batteries including in renewable tech. This mining industry is responsible for a massive amount of pollution and carbon emissions.

The team is still in the research phase, but they see a future in which their creations will power not only electronic devices, and the homes that we live in, but also the world. The answer, say the researchers, is nature: “Central in our design process, we believe that nature with its 3.8 billion years of evolution knows so much more than us,” Perillat-Piratoine says.

Images of Electric Skin

Main Image: The Revival

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