omg how cool are these smart things?

4 cool solutions to climate change

Since this newsletter has consistently been a mix of angry disbelief and foulmouthery, I’ve decided today’s edition will share some positivity.

Happy Earth Day — it is not all bad, even though sometimes it feels like it is. In honor of the Earth’s birthday (? — should I look up why today, April 22 is Earth Day or should I just move on with my life?*) I am launching a series I’m cleverly calling “Cool Solutions.”

Do you get it? — it’s about cool as in neat ideas that will help chill out the warming climate.

Cool Solutions #1

Cool Solutions #1 is a collection of inventive things people have designed and/or made to help tackle the climate issue. Below we’ve got a bit of a random assortment of things I thought were cool. Cool, right? Yeah, cool. Just see if you’re impressed.

  1. A Garbage Disposal That’s Actually A Composter

Coooooool! I wrote about Sepura at the end of 2020 and I haven’t stopped thinking about it for one minute since. Sepura hooks up to the drain of your kitchen sink and stores food solids in a bin underneath. The system sorts solid waste (aka food scraps from your dinner plates) into the bin and funnels liquids out to shore. It’s self-cleaning and doesn’t smell.

Composting is important because it keeps food from going to the landfill. When food goes to the landfill, it is trapped and doesn’t properly decompose; instead it releases methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.

I’ve never had a garbage disposal and, to be honest, they really frighten me. This is a brilliant solution that, beyond home kitchens, I could see succeeding in office buildings, schools, cafeterias, hospitals, and more. Yeah!

  1. A Groovy Adult Lounging Area

Some cute and crafty people turned an old swing set into this fun boho seating area for tweens and grownups alike. This exemplifies the concept of repurposing so well. These folks could have tossed the old swing set and then gone out to buy some patio furniture, but they used their noggins and saved the planet while doing so! Inspiring.

  1. Banana Leaves As Packaging

    This is a centuries old practice that’s being revived, and for good reason: It’s stupidly simple. This natural packaging can be folded in an origami style to keep produce secure without creating any additional waste. The “ties” in the photo above are actually bamboo.

    How wonderful would it be if these could replace all the rubber bands and twist-ties and plastic packaging that litters the produce aisle? These leaves can be cooked, repurposed, or composted. Love to see it.

  2. A Reusable Box For Online Shopping

    Meet “The Box,” a reusable, collapsible shipping box that claims to be the ~future~ of packaging. Bold. This inventive little box is equipped with GPS tracking so it can’t be lost, requires a personalized code to be opened (so people can’t steal your packages!!), and can be used up to 1,000 times before it needs to be refurbished (kind of like Citi Bikes, I’m guessing).

    It also uses E-Ink, the same stuff in your Kindle, so you can create shipping labels without relying on traditional ink and printing (processes that lead to waste).

    I don’t get this at all but the product is allegedly 98% air (lol). It’s made of 2% recycled material and the rest is air and the year is 2021 so why the fuck not.

    Because they’re easily recyclable, cardboard shipping boxes aren’t seen as a major threat to global warming, but producing those boxes does require energy, trees, plastic tape, and the blood, sweat, and tears of too many Amazon employees. According to one source, the U.S. produces an unfathomable 100 BILLION cardboard boxes every year — 75% of which are recycled (not perfect, but not the worst but I also don’t believe those numbers).

    Still, to make these boxes — and other paper products — 4 billion trees are cut down around the world every year, says Greenpeace. I think The Box is a viable alternative solution, and would leave us all with a lot fewer paper cuts, amiright?! Yuk yuk yuk.

This has been the first edition of Cool Solutions. My, what the future holds.

* I looked up Earth Day’s origins. It began in 1970 and, if you can believe it, was not designed to support a capitalistic scheme or greenwash earth-loving people around the world. The EPA exists because of Earth Day, as do the environmental regulations it designs. From Earthday.org:

Groups that had been fighting individually against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife united on Earth Day around these shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, urban dwellers and farmers, business and labor leaders. By the end of 1970, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first of their kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act,  the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. 

Two years later Congress passed the Clean Water Act.  A year after that, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act and soon after the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. These laws have protected millions of men, women and children from disease and death and have protected hundreds of species from extinction.

Happy holidays 🌎