Let’s start the new year with a little inspiration from the eco-warriors and social-do-gooders. These five innovative designs are contributing to a cleaner, safer, healthier planet.
Revolutionising sustainable fashion, Spanish design house Ecoalf was born from a frustration with industrial waste and over-consumption. Crafting colourful collections from recycled plastics and repurposed fibres since 2012, the company earned the honour of a nomination in the 10th annual Beazley Designs of the Year for the project, ‘Upcycling the Oceans’ in 2017. First undertaken on the Mediterranean coastline in 2015, the second wave of the project was launched in conjunction with the Government of Thailand’s Minister of Tourism, and enlists the support of local scuba diving clubs, beach cleaning clubs and local waste collectors to gather discarded plastics from the waters surrounding Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Samed and Koh Pha Ngan. Once collected, waste is sent to local processing plants to be transformed in to pellets, thread and, finally, fabric.
Of the approximately 8 million tonnes of plastic waste entering our oceans annually – everything from bottles, packaging, and abandoned fishing nets to micro-plastics from synthetic fabrics and cleaning and cosmetic products – around 60 per cent of it originates in Asia. Ecoalf uses these recycled fabrics to create a range of outerwear, shoes, backpacks and gifts, simultaneously working to rid the ocean of plastic pollution, while challenging the wave of fast fashion by providing a durable, on-trend, and classic range of designs, satisfying our desire for cleaner oceans and our lust for new kit.
The brainchild of two German surfers, Guppyfriend is a washing bag that limits the amount of microfibres entering oceans and rivers from your wash. Concerned by the environmental implications of the fleece clothing sold in their outdoor apparel store Langbrett, Alexander Nolte and Oliver Spies sat down over beers and devised a solution.
In conjunction with their invention, the ocean-lovers also started Stop! Micro Waste, a non-profit organisation providing information on how to better handle the plastic-waste dilemma – including the microfibre problem.
Perfect for backpackers and eternal travellers, the compact bag zips up with all your dirties inside. Synthetic fibres – including those shed by man-made fabrics such as fleece – don’t degrade, and are often consumed by small ocean organisms, which can lead to health issues for them and for us!
The Shoe That Grows
After graduating college, Kenton Lee travelled to Nairobi, Kenya. Seeking new perspectives about the state of the wider world, Kenton was working in an orphanage when he came upon a small girl, her toes dangling over the tips of torn sandals that were many sizes too small.
Upon returning to the US, he was inspired to help the children he had encountered. What if he could design a shoe that would grow along with the child?
More than 1.5 billion people suffer from soil-born infection. Without shoes, they become even more vulnerable. Not only this, but children without shoes are often turned away from school.
So Kenton launched Because International, a non-profit organisation with an interest in listening to innovative solutions to global problems, and helping bring them to life. The Shoe that Grows was its first project. You can deliver shoes to recipients, or make a donation to participating companies to provide shoes to families in need. Each shoe can be adjusted and expanded up to five times, staying with a child for many years.
Graviky Labs, a group of like-minded engineers, scientists and designers has pioneered the latest and greatest of all inks: ink made from captured carbon pollution.
Air-Ink is the second baby born from the creative minds at Graviky. Their first design was Kaalink, a device used to capture air pollution, fitted to diesel generators or chimney stacks. The pollution was converted into ink for artists – and, voila, Air-Ink was born.
By taking a harmful byproduct and using it resourcefully, Air-Ink captures between 40 to 130 minutes’ worth of emissions from a car engine in each pen.
Unsurprisingly for the vegan food enthusiasts at New Roots, Switzerland – the home of Gruyère cheese – proved to be a hard nut to crack. With the population consuming increasing amounts of cheese per capita, each year – almost 22kg per person – the team at New Roots decided they’d heard enough of the line, “We can’t live without cheese”, and did something about it.
The result is eight incredibly convincing cheesy non-cheeses – including camembert, ‘goat’s’ cheese, cream cheese and even an aged hard cheese. These ‘fauxmage’ masters have crafted an ethical alternative to the dairy favourite, offering Swiss consumers the option of reducing their dairy intake while still indulging their cheese cravings.
According to WWF, there are approximately 270 million dairy cows in the world, while animal agricultural industries contribute up to 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. New Roots uses all-natural, vegan and organic ingredients for their cashew nut-based range, allowing you to get your fix and feel good about it.
Try it next time you swing by Switzerland, or order yours online.