Solar Comes Home!

Kerala, India, has the world’s first solar-powered airport. PHOTO:  CIAL

Kerala, India, has the world’s first solar-powered airport. PHOTO: CIAL

For five years now, RAXA Collective has called the state of Kerala, India, its home. Over the years, the ‘three magic words’ – community, collaboration, conservation – have guided our work here. And every story in these three spaces has us glad for finding another believer. Now we’ve found a believer who puts his thoughts into action in the Cochin International Airport. Welcome to our land and the world’s first solar-powered, power-neutral airport.

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Recycling the Core of Computers

This wooden computer chip could make recycling electronics a lot easier as it replaces most of the silicon with biodegradable cellulose. PHOTO: Co Exist

This wooden computer chip could make recycling electronics a lot easier as it replaces most of the silicon with biodegradable cellulose. PHOTO: Co Exist

A recent report from United Nations University (UNU) found that the world produced 41.8 million metric tons of e-waste in 2014 – an amount that would fill 1.15 million 18-wheel trucks. Lined up, those trucks would stretch from New York to Tokyo and back. Computers and smart phones are among the ditched items, which could top 50 million tonnes by 2017, UNEP estimates. Virtually all electronics contain toxic materials and a lot of this hazardous stuff is in the circuit board, including lead (in the solder), mercury (in switches and relays), and brominated flame-retardants. Some electronics, like smart phones and laptops, contain heavy metals like cadmium, beryllium, hexavalent chromium, or arsenic, which have been shown to build up in our bodies and the environment. Also, the wires and cables that run through all this stuff are often coated with PVC, which contains toxic additives called phthalates.

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Fancy a Chlorine-free Pool?

A natural pool set up by Total Habitat

A natural pool set up by Total Habitat

Natural pools are miraculous, gorgeous creations that use plant life, rocks, and other biological filters to eliminate the need for cleansing chemicals. They’re clean, they’re safe, and they’re absolutely beautiful. These natural pools have been big in Europe for a couple of decades now, with the first ones popping up in Austria and Germany in the 1980s. In the years since, they’ve seen a rapid increase in numbers. Today there are over 20,000 natural pools in Europe, including plenty open to the general public.

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Dubai Thinks Solar Palm Trees

These solar "Palm Trees" in Dubai will charge phones at parks and beaches

These solar “Palm Trees” in Dubai will charge phones at parks and beaches

Look at what’s installed and ready-for-use in Dubai this summer: “Smart palms” that store solar energy during the day and discharge power at night. Smart Palm, the company, has set up two so far—one on Surf Beach, another in a park near the waterfront. It plans to plant them in 103 locations under a contract with the United Arab Emirates city.

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By the Power of Hydrogen

Hyundai Motor Co's Tucson fuel cell SUV

Hyundai Motor Co’s Tucson fuel cell SUV

Hyundai Motor Co believes hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are the future for eco-friendly cars despite challenges of limited infrastructure and slow sales. South Korea’s largest automaker has sold or leased 273 Tucson fuel cell SUVs since beginning production in 2013, lower than its 1,000 target, mostly in Europe and California. Fuel cell cars represent a bigger opportunity than electric cars because competition is less fierce. Hydrogen-powered cars also give more flexibility to designers. They can be scaled to big vehicles such as buses as well as small cars.

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This Furniture Can Grow You Dinner

Spirulina is said to be the richest food in iron, 20 times higher than common iron-rich foods; and its iron is twice as effective than iron found in most vegetables and meats. COURTESY: Esse Spirulina

Spirulina is said to be the richest food in iron, 20 times higher than common iron-rich foods; and its iron is twice as effective than iron found in most vegetables and meats. COURTESY: Esse Spirulina

In the living room of the not-so-distant-future, you might have a glowing green blob of microorganisms next to your sofa instead of a lamp. A new line of photosynthetic furniture is filled with spirulina—a tiny, edible bacteria—that the designers imagine could help feed us without the incredible environmental footprint of conventional agriculture.

A new line of photosynthetic furniture is filled with spirulina… The custom glass bioreactors use waste heat, light, and carbon dioxide from a home to feed the spirulina inside. Periodically, someone can turn a tap, empty out the green sludge, and eat it.

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Most Eco-friendly Ad Campaign Ever?

French organic food retailer Biocoop claims to have come up with the most eco-friendly campaign ever. PHOTO: AdWeek

French organic food retailer Biocoop claims to have come up with the most eco-friendly campaign ever. PHOTO: AdWeek

Welcome to the age of ‘organic’ being the marketing appeal of food production, design, crafts, consumer goods, and more. With it being a coveted USP and given the large planning and effort that go into taking the organic route, you might as well tell everyone who has a moment to listen. And that’s precisely what French organic food retailer Biocoop is doing. And doing it with a creative difference – rather than investing in commercials and monstrous hoardings, the company and its agency Fred & Farid Paris decided to make the medium their message. Marshall Mcluhan, you’d be proud! Organic by business and eco-friendly in their ad campaign, Biocoop’s message is crystal clear.

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Sweden, Take Our Trash, too?

With Swedes recycling almost half (47 percent) of their waste and using 52 percent to generate heat, less than 1 percent of garbage now ends up in the dump PHOTO: Shutterstock

With Swedes recycling almost half (47 percent) of their waste and using 52 percent to generate heat, less than 1 percent of garbage now ends up in the dump PHOTO: Shutterstock

Now, to ask someone to take your garbage will be met with censure in any part of the world, but not in Sweden. Since the country’s waste incineration program began in the 1940s, 950,000 homes are heated by trash; this lowly resource also provides electricity for 260,000 homes across the country, according to statistics. But there’s a problem: there is simply not enough trash.

Americans, in general, are bad at recycling. In 2010, U.S. residents recycled 34% of their waste—an embarrassing amount compared to European countries like the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria, where people recycle almost all of their waste. In Sweden, people are so diligent about recycling that just 4% of all trash ends up in landfills, It’s a heartening statistic, but it has led to a problem for the country—there’s not enough garbage to power the country’s large waste-to-energy program. Sweden’s solution: import trash. More.

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Green, Cause And Effect, Explained

Photo Illustration by Andrew B. Myers for The New York Times

Photo Illustration by Andrew B. Myers for The New York Times

Considering she is one of our favorite science writers, it has been a while; just over a year in fact, since we last we read of her, at which time she was in one of our favorite locations. The wait was worth it, because this article helps us understand why we reference green so often in these pages:

…Goethe praised green as the “soothing” marriage of the chromatic opposites yellow and blue. George Washington called green “grateful to the eye,” and painted his Mount Vernon dining room a brilliant verdigris. And let’s not forget that everybody’s favorite elephant, Babar, wore a dapper suit in a “becoming shade of green.” Continue reading