With International #YouthDay in mind, we're highlighting a few of our favourite purpose-driven solutions from young innovators
Here at Springwise, we aim to highlight the most inspiring ideas from the most driven innovators across the world. Nowhere is this energy more evident than amongst the young activists, student designers and thought leaders of tomorrow — already making an impact today.
The theme of this year’s International Youth Day on the 12th of August is “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, which celebrates and encourages the participation and voices of our young people in the creation of a better world. In the spirit of this, we have gathered seven of our favourite purpose-driven solutions from young innovators — ranging from climate activism, improving the remote learning experience and enhancing the circular economy.
1. DIGITAL PLATFORM ORGANISES A YOUNGER GENERATION OF CLIMATE ACTIVISTS
British activists and former YouTube celebrities, Jack and Finn Harries joined forces with filmmaker Alice Aedy to launch an online community and platform focused on communicating the climate crisis.
Earthrise will develop into curated content from journalists, scientists and storytellers, aiming to humanise the climate crisis and untangle the hard data, jargon and abstract graphs that have“for too long dominated the climate conversation.” The trio’s social media audience of almost four million followers have watched them travel the world creating engaging content, win awards and involve themselves in Extinction Rebellion. Now, the London-based team wants to harness their online audience to build a platform that can infuse climate activism with a strong sense of diversity and optimism.
2. STUDENT STARTUP DEVELOPS SUSTAINABLE FABRICS USING SEAWATER PLANTS
An interdisciplinary team of students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art have found a way to make fabrics from plants grown in seawater. Potentially, this could provide a solution to the freshwater-intensive fashion and textile industries.
In contrast to water-thirsty cotton, which can require 20,000 litres of fresh water to produce just a kilogram of the material, the fabrics are made from a salt-tolerant plant that thrives in seawater. The team, composed by mechanical engineer Julian Ellis-Brown, chemist Finlay Duncan, integrated designer Antonia Jara and business/design strategist Neloufar Taheri, participated in Imperial Enterprise Lab’s Venture Catalyst Challenge.
After a successful period of trialling, the team is planning to launch three different textile products under the startup name SaltyCo.
3. TOY WOODEN CUBES TEACH CHILDREN ABOUT ENERGY SUSTAINABILITY
The Student Runner Up award in 2020’s Core 77 Design Awards went to three students at the Umeå Institute of Design. The student team, consisting of Anna Hing, Fabian Böttcher, Soh Heum Hwang, have designed a toy that lets children explore energy sustainability in a creative way.
The toy, named Joul, consists of small wooden blocks, each of which is part of the energy cycle – generation, storage or usage. The generation cubes include blocks topped by solar panels, miniature wind turbines and hand cranks. The storage cubes are batteries which can be charged by the generation cubes. Finally, there are usage cubes, lights and speakers powered from the storage cubes.
4. STUDENTS DEVELOP VIRTUAL CLASSROOM FOR IMPROVED REMOTE-LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Kerala engineering students in India recently won the CODE19 hackathon, for creating a virtual classroom to enable uninterrupted learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their winning entry, iClassroom, connects students with teachers through a social media-type interface. Students and teachers can interact with each other, answer questions, mentor others and conduct online classes.
iClassroom was created by 19-year-old Abhinand C and 20-year-old Shilpa Rajeev, both students at Government College of Engineering in Kannur. According to Shilpa Rajeev, the platform will enable learning communities to interact with each other, share resources and keep track of progress in selected courses, without the need to use multiple communication tools.
5. JAPANESE STUDENTS USE FLIES TO RECYCLE FOOD
A group of University of Tokyo students developed a new method for recycling food waste. The students were inspired by a trip to Phenom Penh, where they noticed a large amount of garbage rotting by the roadside. This waste is not only unsightly but can create health problems. To solve this, the students came up with the idea of Grubin, a waste bin filled with larvae that will eat such organic waste.
The students developed a plastic bin filled with larvae of the black solder fly, Hermetia illucens. The idea is that the larvae will eat any organic waste thrown into the bin. Once the larvae are fully grown, they are collected from a special compartment inside the bin and then dried and ground into pellets, to be used as a sustainable source of animal feed for fish or chicken.
6. STUDENTS DESIGN SOLAR LAMPS FROM RUBBISH
According to a 2019 study, around 1.8 million Mexicans live without mains electricity, while another 5 million have limited access to power. In an effort to draw attention to the need for sustainable solar power, students at Mexico’s Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey have partnered with designer Moises Hernández to create solar-powered lamps made from throw-away materials.
The hand-held lamps were made with materials that included wicker, agave plants, coconut bark, adobe, collagen and black beans — all of which are commonly found in rural areas and have a low carbon footprint. The lamps included simple electronic components and a small solar panel, which could be easily transferred to a new lamp if the first one is damaged.
7. STUDENT CREATES BIODEGRADABLE PLASTIC WRAP FROM FISH WASTE
A recent Sussex University graduate has developed a chemical-free, biodegradable, plastic-like material. Named MarinaTex, it is made from fish waste and aims to reduce plastic waste. MarinaTex is as thin as traditional plastic film, but stronger. Unlike some other bioplastics, it does not contain chemicals, according to its creator Lucy Hughes.
The secret of the material is the fish scales and skins, according to Hughes. Both are naturally flexible and have strength-enabling proteins. Hughes combined the fish waste with agar, a jelly-like substance that can be locally sourced from red algae. That produced a clear material that mimics single-use plastics, but biodegrades in four to six weeks.
Written By: Holly Hamilton
12th August 2020