How Biodesign Can Promote Eco-Friendly Habits
Working in cross-industry teams, participants leveraged natural substances to engineer solutions to social problems. The winners, from Colombia’s Universidad de los Andes, created a power-free refrigeration system that enables vaccines or other volatile materials to be easily transported to remote regions. It relies on a protein isolated from a specific bacteria.
The runner up, from San Francisco science workshop Nest Makerspace, explored how alternative materials – like mushroom-based leathers and plastic derived from kombucha cultures – could form the building blocks of an eco-friendly children’s play kit.
With 72% of UK Gen Z consumers saying they’d prefer to spend more on sustainable products (GreenMatch, 2018), sustainability’s commercial relevance will increase alongside this generation’s spending power. This will give easy-to-install innovations like the Enzer washing machine filter – which prevents microplastics from entering the waterways – mass appeal.
Enzer received Orta’s Bioinspired Textile Prize, and was devised by a team from Melbourne’s RMIT University to offer consumers a low-effort way of making their daily routine more eco-friendly. The filtration system can be retrofitted to pre-existing machines.
Another noteworthy innovation, winning the Stella McCartney prize for Sustainable Fashion, came from a team at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology, who engineered a biodegradable fur substitute from flax and milkweed. With luxury fashion brands phasing out animal furs (see Materials for Vegan-Friendly Lifestyles for more), such products have great potential.
The Biodesign Challenge concluded with a New York summit on June 22, where the winning teams showcased their designs. To find out how cross-industry inspiration will become crucial to encouraging the adoption of environmentally sound habits, see our Macro Trend Towards Our Sustainable Future.