The world today (plagued by global health, food and financial crisis in the recent past) – embarked onto the road of recovery – in a snapshot: an ever progressing world with global warming and climatic change sparing no one – combating the battle of increasing demand and insufficient supply through technological and innovative breakthroughs along with sustainable, eco-friendly, green and smart-living options. During my trip to London last month, I had the privilege to visit the ‘Design Museum’ there (tucked away on Kensington High Street for those of you planning to visit) where the main topic of research was ‘REDUCE.REUSE.RETHINK‘. I was enraptured by the wide variety of green material options (having minimum impact on the environment) on display and just had to let you all know about these!
Even though most of the innovative materials were researched in the context of the air travel industry and reducing the consequent trail of waste, most of them were recyclable, biodegradable and commercially compostable products derived from natural resources including waste by-products; hence perfectly suited and relevant for all kinds of design and innovative industries including interior design and architecture.
1. Algae as a biodegradable option: Fastest growing organisms on the planet and naturally abundant.
2. Wafer: Commonly used as food packaging material – a great biodegradable and edible alternative to plastic.
3. Wheat Bran: Another biodegradable material known for its versatility- oven safe, oil and water resistant.
4. Coconut Palm Wood: A waste by-product of coconut farming – naturally hard/sturdy and having a smooth finish. Coconut trees are cut down and replanted every 60 years when they stop producing coconuts. Mostly there is no use left of the trees once cut down and they are often burned as waste.
5. Coffee Grounds: Made from a durable blend of coffee grounds and husks – a waste by-product from the manufacturing of coffee; and lignin – a natural binder derived from plants. The resultant material is known to be commercially compostable.
6. Rice Husk: Made from discarded rice husks – a waste by-product from Rice production; another alternative to plastic.
7. Bamboo: Another renewable replacement for plastic.
8. Kaffeeform: Made from recycled waste coffee grounds, locally sourced from coffee shops in Germany, which are then blended with renewable raw materials including wood chips and cellulose.
9. Aquafaba: A by-product from the preparation of chickpeas – an excellent alternative to PVC and single-use plastic.
10. WASARA: Made from bamboo and bagasse pulp. As this pulp is softer and more pliable than wood pulp, the energy requirement in production is significantly reduced.
11. PLA: A bioplastic derived from renewable biomass: corn, sugarcane or cassava, all of which are known to be 100% biodegradable.
12. Cocoform: Made from coconut fibre and naturally sustainably harvested latex.
13. Vibers: A bioplastic made from elephant grass and starch from potato waste. As a crop, elephant grass can grow up to 4 metres in just 100 days.
Some additional materials on display included Bacterial Cellulose grown from banana stem and waste coconut water, Recyclable Glass, Nettle and Willow Paper and Pineapple Wool (made from waste leaves of pineapple).
Note: All information, facts and figures stated herein have been sourced directly from the displays and explanations at the museum itself.