What if we could replace plastics and styrofoam with something much more sustainable? Something that wouldn’t fill our landfills, pollute our beaches, or float out into our ocean gyres?
Meet Eben Bayer, the co-founder of Ecovative Designs. In 2007, Bayer and co-founder Gavin McIntyre developed the idea of combining mycelium from growing mushrooms with local crop waste to make a compostable biomaterial. Their goal: use it for packaging, insulation, shoes, fiberboard for furniture, and other products, thereby reducing or replacing non-biodegradable synthetic materials and plastics that can leach chemicals.
Are mushrooms the new plastic?
To find out, watch this 2010 report that explores how mushroom packaging is made. For more information on what Ecovative is working on, read this article in The Guardian, watch Bayer present at TED, or watch Ecovative’s Sam Harrington present to NASA.
Then watch more videos on innovative ideas and sustainability (like the Moser Lamp!), learn how creativity works, and check out Minute Earth’s The Biggest Organism on Earth.
In 2002, Brazilian engineer Alfredo Moser invented a simple way to bring the sun’s light indoors: fill a clear plastic 2 liter bottle with water and two capfuls of bleach, then make a hole in the roof and secure it with a waterproof sealant.
The result: 40 to 60 watts of free, natural light.
How does it work? The bleach keeps the water from turning green, and the water refracts sunlight. To see this innovative but simple invention in action, watch the the ecoideasnet video above (with captions on). Chilean Miguel Marchand helps to install the bottle lights, or Moser Lamps, in the home of a family that lives in the Andes.
Around 1.6 billion people — 25% of the Earth’s population — live without electricity, but with this simple idea, they can enjoy sustainable light in their home for free. Moser Lamps are becoming popular solutions in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Argentina, Fiji, and other countries, and give an incredibly useful second life to plastic bottles.
If you make a Moser Lamp, please contact us by twitter, facebook, or email to let us know!
h/t BBC News.
Related watching: La casa ecológica de botellas, and more videos about sustainability.
What is a gyre? And how does this natural phenomenon demonstrate the impact of our plastic trash? Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen of 5 Gyres Institute explain how we can understand the international issue while acting locally:
"It is impractical to try and scoop out trash out of the ocean. What we can do is wait for it to wash ashore. So to clean a gyre, clean your beach, clean your watershed, clean your street. As close as you can get to the source, is a better way we can solve the problem of plastics in the ocean"
This Nike Better World promo video from 2012 shares the manufacturing process of how plastic bottles can turn into “the most advanced football jerseys on the planet.” (And by the way, that’s soccer/football, not American football.)
There are some excellent vids about plastics and sports in the archives.