Due to shortages of natural resources like oils and fossil fuels, researchers are creating energy with alternative sources. From what it seems, our bodies may be more useful than we give them credit for. As a matter of fact, our sweat can power various electronics, including radios. In this case, so can our tears, as they have been found to contain a protein called lysozyme.
Lysozyme has an innate antibacterial property, as its main role is to protect against infection by breaking down bacterial cells. While many other known piezoelectric materials contain toxic elements like lead, Stapleton says lysozyme’s nontoxic, organic quality could make it useful to biomedical technology.
Big words aside, applying pressure to the protein creates a small electrical charge. That electrical charge can power medical devices such as pacemakers, and can eventually be used to replace old batteries. Head of study Aimee Stapleton explained that lysozymes crystallize, which make them hassle-free and thus make their usage relatively easy to develop.
“I was interested in lysozyme because it can be crystallized really easily, which makes it easier to study,” she says, “because crystallized structures tend to show piezoelectricity.”
The protein is apparently more conductive than other materials, which makes them a good alternative to replace old batteries with, but don’t worry — scientists aren’t going to start making people cry. Lysozymes are apparently also present in egg whites. Maybe chicken farmers are the ones who should be stoked.
In the past few months alone, the zero-waste community has grown exponentially. Environmental enthusiasts are ever going as far as hosting sustainable wedding receptions. Waste-free shops are manifesting across all seven continents, including this charming boutique in London.
“I created a shop that I wish existed. I wanted to cut packaging, I wanted to cut my footprint, and found it very difficult as supermarkets pack everything.” [said shop owner Ingrid Caldironi]
The shop, dubbed Bulk Market, boasts a wide range of organic products. Home essentials, including fresh produce, chocolates, and hair products, rest comfortably on its shelves. Caldironi’s ultimate goal is to prevent excessive buying and packaging waste.
“Why can’t we shop with smaller exact portions – 1-2 carrots, 1-2 eggs; why big packets with the environmental waste that goes with it?”
As an avid lover of omelettes, I’m not entirely sure 2 eggs would get the job done. However, the initiative is more than commendable, especially for environmental aficionados on a budget.
At present, some 795 million people don’t get the proper nourishment they need. While the number is staggering, only a few farms and soup kitchens are taking action. This Australian family is playing its part, feeding dozens of families with produce from its 1-acre permaculture farm.
At Limestone Permaculture Farm, they grow organic produce, raise sheep goats and chickens, keep bees, and even build with recycled materials. Much of the farm is powered by energy from wood, water, and the sun.
In essence, permaculture pays homage to natural ecosystems and how they function. Instead of growing a single crop in large-scale, permaculture integrates symbiosis so different plants may flourish. Owners of Limestone, Nici and Brett Cooper, believe that permaculture is the future of food.
“We feel there has been an awakening across our beautiful country, self-reliance is on the rise again; urban and rural homesteading has people taking their food and energy supply back into their own hands.”
To encourage the unique farming technique, the Coopers offer workshops, internships, and permaculture design programs to tourists. As it seems, permaculture is opening doors for rural communities and, in turn, also helping out the needy.
Now that society is beginning to fully realize the drawbacks of food waste, change is on the horizon. Establishments are not only donating leftover food to the needy — science is playing its part in the whole thing. From apples that don’t brown, Japanese farmers have developed a banana that consumers can eat in its entirety. And yes, that includes the peel.
The [Mongee] bananas are made using a pesticide-free cultivation technique called “freeze thaw awakening”, which involves replicating a process observed in the Ice Age by keeping the fruits in temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.
As a result, the bananas grow in less than half the time they normally would. Also, they taste much sweeter, an added bonus for sugar addicts avoiding health setbacks.
“The motivation for its development was the fact he (developer Setsuzo Tanaka) wanted to eat a banana that was delicious and safe: people can eat the peel because it is cultivated organically without chemicals.”
If you’re keen on munching on a Mongee banana outside of Japan, you’re well out of luck. They’re sold only in the Okayama Prefecture for about a cosmic $6 a piece. Now that’s bananas.
Powering motorcycles and stringing together running shoes, algae is the eco-material of the year. So far, it seems capable of almost anything. Taking the next step, Dutch designers are 3D printing the stuff in the hopes of replacing synthetic plastics.
“Our idea is that in the future there will be a shop on every street corner where you can ‘bake’ organic raw materials, just like fresh bread,” said [designer Eric] Klarenbeek.
If the concoction goes commercial, it can replace oils, which are vital in the production of bottles and containers. A complete cherry on top, algae is also highly absorbent of carbon dioxide, which makes production sustainable.
“In this relatively brief period, a vast amount of carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere, with damaging consequences. It is therefore important that we clean the CO2 from the atmosphere as quickly as possible and this can be done by binding the carbon to biomass.”
Along with partner Maartje Dros, Klarenbeek has been on a steady mission to create less wasteful industries. Why spend time on DIY furniture when you can simply grow them?
A Norway supermarket is selling expired food to alleviate food waste, and now Britain wants in on the action. Former Manchester United star Richard Eckersley runs Earth.Food.Love, a zero-waste packaging-free store. It’s the first of its kind in Britain.
It’s the first zero waste store in the UK, retailing a range of up to 200 pesticide-free products – but to shop there, you’ll have to come along with your own pots, jars and sandwich bags.
The store also uses eco-energy and is completely organic, so milk and alcohol are off the menu. Totnes is home to the charming boutique, as Eckersley claims it wouldn’t have fared as well in Manchester.
“We just didn’t think Manchester was ready for this kind of shop, but we hope the idea will spread and more people will follow the idea in future.”
Having played alongside Ronaldo and Rooney, Eckersley ought to give himself some credit for the store’s popularity. However, he and wife Nicola focus on being “ethical, wholesome, and organic.” But there is no denying the rewarding boost of fame.
Despite the running jokes about them, vegans set an example for those looking to become more sustainable. This cattle farmer raised beef cows for a living until he decided to rescue 59 of them and grow vegetables instead. Now, the British sports industry is looking to go green, erecting its first vegan football club.
Meat is banned and all the cuisine is vegan. The pitch is kept lush with captured rainwater, the paint contains no chemicals, and 20 percent of the energy comes from solar panels on the roofs of the stands.
The Forest Green Rovers stadium even boasts charging ports for electric vehicles. As for food, groundsmen are going “beyond organic.”
“We can’t just use organics. We don’t use anything that’s derived of an animal,”
“With regards to getting the nutrients, and especially with athletes, it’s not hard to get that amount of protein,”
Dale Vince, Chairman of Forest Green and founder of green electricity company Ecotricity, hopes to open an eco park with a new stadium in the coming years. While fans aren’t too hot about the food choices at the Forest Green New Lawn stadium, they do commend the effort. My suggestion? Green is great, but don’t forget the beer!
Toast ale craft beer and human waste charcoal are proof that you can make anything out of anything. Lately, innovators have pushed the boundaries even further, creating vegetable leather out of wine byproducts.
The production process begins with pressing the grapes and separating the grape marc… The grape marc is dried to avoid degradation and to enable its preservation up to three years from the date of desiccation… Next, physical and mechanical patented treatments are carried out, thus obtaining a mixture that is then coated and transformed into sheets of the material.
Sustainable leather-maker Vegea projects that the 7 billion kilograms of grape marc produced each year can account for 2.6 billion square meters of leather.
“We believe that the exploitation of winemaking by-products is crucial for environmental sustainability. In Vegea’s production process, these organic by-products are transformed into a high value added biomaterial,”
Plant-based leather is not only environmentally risk-free — it’s a blessing for vegans and sigh of relief for thousands of cows who don’t have to bite the dust.
With a rise in pay-what-you-can restaurants, the food industry is doing what it can do give back to the needy. Some places rely on apps to direct excess food to banks. Others, such as this New York farmer, grow food on farms exclusively for donation to soup kitchens.
The 40-acre farm donates all of its organic produce – and eggs and meat from grass-fed animals – to food pantries and banks throughout the state.
The farm, which is also praised for its smart architecture, hopes to ensure food security.
Out of the 40 acres, 25 are used for animal pasture, and two are dedicated to vegetable production. The farm is currently in its fifth season and estimates they’ve been able to donate over 36,000 healthy, organic meals – emphasizing quality of food as much as quantity.
The farm has donated more than 10 tons of meat across the state, an impressive and heartwarming feat. Perhaps what the world needs is not more food but more industries willing to share produce with communities that need it most.