By Staff Writer Joseph Collins
In many ways, these are great times for the environmental movement. Over the past 10 years, public awareness of environmental issues has increased dramatically across the globe. In China, a recent survey found that environmental protection has become one of the public’s top concerns—and they are demanding that the government take action. At the same time, in countries like Costa Rica and Brazil there has been a major push to protect local rain forests and preserve important endangered species. And in Europe, a recent Eurobarometer Survey found that “protecting the environment” has become personally important to an incredible 95% of the population. In countries throughout the world, people are becoming more and more informed about the environmental challenges facing our planet, and they are ready to do something about it.
One result of this growing awareness is that investments in green technology have expanded significantly. In fact, the green tech field has become a booming industry. New inventions that help reduce pollution or prevent it altogether are cropping up every year. Technologies that harness solar and wind power are advancing on a monthly basis, and many countries have pledged to go 100% renewable within the next 10 to 15 years. What makes this all so remarkable is how quickly some of these technologies are spreading. The age of “green” technology is upon us, and there’s no stopping it now.
As we celebrate the 46th Earth Day this year, Infinite Fire is happy to highlight some of the more recent and impressive inventions that are innovative, eco-friendly, and 100% fascinating.
- SUN-DAY DRIVING
One of the most exciting new green inventions is the Immortus, a sleek, solar-powered sports car that can drive all day long on sun power. Designed by Australian company EVX Ventures, the Immortus utilizes photovoltaic paneling along its exterior and a small 10 kWh lithium-ion battery within. Although the top speed (so far) is 37 MPH, it can drive indefinitely, without ever needing to stop to gas up or plug in to recharge. No doubt, over time, this sci-fi car will evolve into something faster and more convenient over time. And then traveling around the country, exclusively on sun power, will be not only great for the environment, but completely cost-free.
2. GREEN SHOPPING AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
Environmental shopping just got easier with the AUG Living Goods Program. It’s a mobile phone app that stole the show at the 2010 Greener Gadgets Conference in New York. It allows you to scan the bar code of any food you are considering buying, and the Living Good Program automatically gives you information on its producer, how far the food has traveled, whether it’s in season, pricing, detailed consumer ratings and even your own purchasing history. All this information is useful for those who want to make a conscientious choice to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible, as well as those who wish to eat healthier. Small and convenient, it’s leading the way in smart shopping.
3. PEDESTRIAN POWER
Another gadget that’s helping us go greener is the nPower PEG, a device that uses the energy you create by simply walking and turns it into electricity. All it takes to make the device work is to place it in a backpack and move your body (walking, running) to create kinetic energy from your motion. It’s a great resource for hikers or for anyone else who spends a lot of time in remote locations, with no access to an electric outlet. In addition, it is a completely off-the-grid way to produce energy, which means it has zero impact on the environment.
4. RECHARGING THE SOLAR WAY
If you’re not necessarily moving your body, but are traveling in a car, boat or bus or outside train, there are other options to recharge your personal cell other than plugging it in. The solar tech company Solpro has developed a new solar-powered phone-charging device called the Helios Smart. This pocket-sized product unfolds to reveal three solar panels which can absorb enough sunlight in 90 minutes to charge a standard smartphone. It’s another perfect commodity for those who are living off the grid or who travel frequently and have no regular access to electricity. And, again, the energy you use is totally free, with no real environmental impact.
5. KNOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT
If you’re one of those people who are always concerned about the quality of air or the level of ultraviolet radiation of your current location, then you might want to purchase the Tzoa, a new device that monitors your environment, including humidity and temperature. The purpose of the Tzoa, according to co-founder Kevin Hart, is to help people get in touch with their surroundings and to be more aware of environmental issues. “Users are encouraged to get outside and map air pollution,” says Hart. “Overall, we believe that awareness leads to advocacy, which leads to action — and that will perpetuate green technologies.”
6. GREEN SHOES MADE FOR WALKING
One of the more unusual inventions has come from a partnership between Adidas and the conservation organization Parley for Oceans: sneakers made from plastic pollution and illegal fishing gillnets found in the seas. The sneakers are made 100% from these materials, all of which have been fished out of the ocean by the Sea Shepard Conservation Society of TV’s “Whale Wars” fame. Although it’s not certain when, or even if, this product will ever become available for the public, its importance lies in the fact that Adidas has begun a new era of incorporating materials into its products that are environmentally progressive. And with them leading the way, other footwear companies will no doubt soon follow in their footsteps.
7. HIGH-POWERED HIGHWAYS
Finally, one of the most impressive inventions to come along in the last few years is a highway lane that automatically recharges electric cars while they’re still moving. These strips of road are the brain child of Highways England, a U.K. based company that has hopes that these lanes will be installed everywhere in the near future. As an electric car moves onto and drives along the lane, the car’s batteries are recharged by electromagnetic fields beneath the pavement, fields that are generated by nearby power grids. Other countries, such as South Korea, are also developing similar highway lanes. Once these are perfected and become commonplace, the headache of powering up your electric car will be a thing of the past, which will encourage more people to buy them, and that will be better for air quality everywhere.
CELEBRATING EARTH DAY
As society continues to embrace newer and cleaner technologies, we will have more of an opportunity than ever before to reduce our impact on the Earth and set things right again. After over a century and a half of massive environmental destruction, the green tech revolution is long overdue. These technologies give us hope and show us a way forward that is more sustainable. More importantly, they remind us that in spite of all the harm that has been caused, it is still not too late to turn things around and save our world.
As environmentalist Paul Hawken once said:
“The great thing about the dilemma we’re in is that we get to reimagine every single thing we do… there isn’t a single thing that doesn’t require a complete remake. There are two ways of looking at that. One is: Oh my gosh, what a big burden. The other way, which I prefer is: What a great time to be born! What a great time to be alive! Because this generation gets to essentially completely change the world.”
This Friday, April 22nd, is, once again, Earth Day – a time to honor our planet and to think about how our daily activities have an impact on it. And the growing awareness of environmental issues and how we, both collectively and individually, contribute to them can inspire us to start changing how we live and think, and about our relationship to each other and our world. And with change comes hope. And with hope anything is possible.
Happy Earth Day to all our followers. Love the Earth, and take care of her. It’s the only home we have.