Thinking Outside the Green Box

Thinking Outside the Green Box

While renewable energy and smart devices are helping use our resources more effectively and efficiently, human ingenuity is coming up with innovative ways to make out environment greener.

For example an Istanbul, Turkey-based company named Pugedon has introduced smart recycling boxes that will dispense fresh dog food in exchange for recycling plastic bottles. The idea is two-fold: to encourage people to recycle while helping address the cities massive stray dog problem. A doggie water bowl is also provided so people can empty their water bottles before dropping their water bottles into the bin. The value of the recycled bottles pay for the food, meaning residents can be more environmentally and socially conscientious at no cost to the city.

In London, researchers are trying to develop a laundry detergent that removes pollution from the air. According to the Sustainable Fashion web site, Catalytic Clothing “explores the use of an existing nano technology in an entirely new context, combining the power of science and art to tackle a global challenge…Applying an air-purifying photocatalyst to textiles and clothing presents the possibility that each of us can actively contribute to improving the quality of the air we breathe as we go about our daily lives.”

Catalytic Clothing is using the same technology found in other smog-eating items such as billboards. In this case designer Helen Storey and chemist Tony Ryan developed a detergent that coats fibers in titanium dioxide, a chemical that attracts pollutants in smog, and oxidizes them, rendering them harmless.

The project’s web site reports that under the right conditions, one square meter (1.12 square yards) of fabric can remove 0.5 grams of nitrous oxide out of the atmosphere daily. That is equal to the smog produced by a light-duty around vehicle driving 30 miles.

Helen Storey, a London College of Fashion professor, told Fast Company, “If you were to unravel the fibers in clothing and set them out as a single surface, we’re all wearing the equivalent of a tennis court. The other advantage is that we walk around in pollution, and that movement is an aid. It allows more air to be purified.”

Obviously, the detergent would need wide-spread use to truly make a dent, but the point is more to inspire individual action and encourage more innovative ideas to truly make our world green and sustainable.

Catalytic Clothing is hoping to get a large laundry manufacturer to market the product. It had been reported that air pollution currently can reduce the life expectancy of the average UK citizen by seven to eight months.

Storey adds: “One of the challenges for the industry is how to market altruism. We’re used to marketing something that makes you more beautiful or cleaner or better fed. The idea of marketing something where someone else benefits more than you do is a challenge.”

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