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5 design innovations supporting a healthy planet

From creating renewable energy solutions to designing biodegradable materials, engineers play a crucial role in improving our lives with innovative solutions that aim to reduce our environmental footprint. This Earth Day we’re spotlighting five new eco-friendly innovations that are contributing towards a more sustainable planet. 

Metal toothbrush with replaceable head – Singular Care

Did you know that approximately 23 billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year? And that if the first toothbrush that you used in your life was plastic, it is still likely to exist!  

Engineers and entrepreneurs from Mexico have been working together to tackle this significant issue and devise a new toothbrush design. Their Singular Care toothbrushes are metal with replaceable heads that are eco-friendly and can be recycled endlessly. This means people using them reduce 80% of waste per toothbrush, having to only replace the heads made from recyclable and antibacterial elastomer. 

“Did you know that if you laid out the toothbrushes thrown away in the U.S. in a year, they would wrap around the Earth four times!” – National Geographic 

The Washing Machine Project – The Divya washing machine 

This machine was engineered to be the very first flat-packable washing machine; it addresses both logistical and environmental concerns by reducing shipping volumes and saving up to 50% of water when compared to handwashing clothes. It’s a game-changer for regions with limited water resources and showcases how engineering can contribute to more sustainable living practices globally.  

Recycled Plastic Bricks – Gjenge Makers 

Gjenge Makers’s initiative in Kenya has turned plastic waste into a valuable construction resource. The company produces bricks made from recycled plastics that are both stronger and lighter than concrete. These cost-effective bricks are not only helping to reduce plastic pollution but are also providing affordable building materials for local communities. 

A plastic bag that dissolves in water – Solubag 

160,000 plastic bags are used per second. Solubag is a game-changing alternative to traditional plastic bags as it dissolves in warm water within minutes. It is free from toxic materials and crafted to leave no harmful residues once dissolved in water. The bag represents a significant step forward in reducing the pollutants that enter oceans and landfills. It also is a clear example of how innovative materials can transform our daily habits. 

“This year 5 trillion plastic bags will be consumed. Put one after another they would go around the world 7 times every hour and cover an area twice the size of France.” – The World Counts 

Plant-based cactus ‘leather’ – Desserto 

Desserto is a sustainable alternative to traditional leather, made from mature cactus leaves. Thriving in harsh conditions with minimal water, cactus plants are an ideal source for creating durable, eco-friendly material that can be used in many industries. The material is also versatile and can come in various colours, thicknesses, and textures. 

The innovations highlighted here represent a fraction of the many contributions made by engineers worldwide to promote sustainability. Each Earth Day we not only celebrate these achievements but also reaffirm our commitment to an eco-friendly future. It’s a reminder that through ingenuity and thoughtful design, we can provide practical solutions to some of our planet’s most pressing problems.  





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