15+ Cool Inventions Made From Natural Materials That May Brighten Our Future
Today we throw away more than 20,000 plastic bottles every second, not to mention other garbage and industrial waste. And only 7% of them are recycled, the rest go to landfills and into the ocean. But thankfully, there are enough enthusiasts who struggle to reduce our environmental footprint and are trying to make this cause of eco-disasters into really fantastic inventions and even objects of art.
We at Bright Side found 19 inventions proving that sustainability and social responsibility have become a new trend today. And that is a good reason for being hopeful for a brighter future.
1. Glamorous sunglasses made from marine plastic
Sea2see collects marine plastic and gives it a second life turning it into glamorous sunglasses. It takes about 1 kg (2.20 lbs) of recycled waste to make one pair of designer glasses. But they not only make products, they mainly prove that a “circular economy is possible, even in the fashion industry.”
Since 2019 the company operates in West Africa, where their teams have already collected thousands of water bottles and single-use plastics. In addition, they cooperate with fishing communities in 43 ports of France, Ghana, Portugal, Senegal, and Spain. And as long as it takes plastic from 20 to 500 years to decompose their mission will remain relevant.
2. Unwearable clothes into energy and soundproofing material
Many of us donate clothing. But not all of us know that 20% of those clothes that cannot be reused may be used for industrial purposes. For instance, in Japan, they transform it into a soundproofing material for automobiles.
Approximately 22 T-shirts (4.3 kg or about 9.5 lbs) are cut, turned back into fiber, and recycled into enough soundproofing material for one car, reducing engine noise in a car using gasoline and high-frequency waves in an electric vehicle. Also, they transform clothing deemed unwearable into energy in the form of calorie-dense solid fuel, which can be used for many industrial purposes.
3. Cozy sneakers from garbage and fishing nets.
Adidas has a campaign to recycle unusable things. For example, some Adidas stores in the UK, Canada, the USA, and France now have special baskets for old clothes and shoes. Also, they recycle plastic waste from the coastal zone and create sneakers from garbage and fishing nets. On average, about 11 plastic bottles are used for one pair of sneakers.
The main idea of the company’s sustainable development is that clothing and shoes will no longer be considered waste at the end of their service life but will become a valuable source for new products. They have already sold 1 million pairs of sneakers made from ocean trash in 2017, and they are not going to stop there.
4. Unique jewelry from the broken dishes.
If you’ve broken a dish, don’t worry! There’s always an excellent way to give it a second chance. Designer Anya Filippova, from Russia, creates her original jewelry from porcelain and ceramic dish fragments. And that is a great inspiration for many new wonderful ideas.
5. Eco-friendly watch as an everyday accessory.
The Panda Watch is another eco-friendly product on the market that has a minimalistic design fused with sustainable elements. Every watch is handcrafted. They use such natural materials like bamboo and Portuguese cork with a Swiss Movement internal mechanism. And though it might look fragile, they are really focused on quality, making it a unique combination of exceptional quality and design. It is really a 2 in one: eco-friendly and eye-catching accessory for your wrist.
6. Bamboo computer accessories instead of plastic ones.
People produce about 20–50 million metric tons of electronic waste every year, and only a fraction of that is being recycled. At Trio Gato, they tried to do their part to reduce waste. That’s why they created the recyclable, wireless keyboard and mouse.
We aren’t saying that the issue of the plastic and metal inner material of the keyboard has been solved, but, the outside is made of all-natural, eco-friendly, and highly renewable bamboo. And how many plastic computer accessories have you already thrown away?
7. Raincoats made from plastic bags collected from public places
Galina Larina is a graphic designer, illustrator, researcher, eco-activist, and creator of the Plasticdoom brand. She made a plastic-fusing machine herself and now creates new functional clothing, accessories, and interior decor items. The main ideas behind the brand are conscious consumption and waste recycling.
8. 3D-printed table lamp made from orange peels
In this instance, we have a pretty unorthodox approach. Ohmie has created a table lamp entirely out of recycled orange peels and transformed organic waste into an eco-friendly product. The company believes that the design itself should become sustainable by default. And this is really the first step toward a Design Revolution, which can surely make Sustainable Circular Design the norm.
Since the lamp is made entirely out of organic materials, it is also fully compostable. And besides, its smell is similar to that of an actual orange, making it an even more desirable item in your home.
9. 10 plastic bottles can be turned into a lovely backpack
Onya Backpacks is one more brand that makes their bags from recycled plastic drink bottles. Each of these colorful and lovely backpacks is made of up to 10 plastic bottles! And remembering how long our children use their backpacks, it’s a much better material for their production.
10. Designer Sasha Polyarus creates unique pieces from advertising banners, car and bicycle tires, and seat belts.
Many people do not know, but some used banners sometimes also make their way into the sea. And this is a few more kilograms/pounds of garbage in addition to all the tires, bottles, and other things that litter our seas and oceans.
In addition, it’s not always clear where to put all these banners after they’ve been used. It is reasonable to reuse them, simply by printing other information on top of the previous info. However, Sasha Polyarus has found another solution and makes many fancy accessories from this really durable material.
11. Sneakers made of fruits and plants.
MoEa — is one more pioneer in using biomaterials to replace leather and plastic. They make their sneakers entirely from plants and recycled materials.
This time science not only meets design but fashion itself. And you don’t have to be a vegan to have some vegan sneakers on your feet. Just make a choice among 5 plants: apples, grapes, pineapples, corn, and even cactus.
12. Coffee cups from recycled coffee grounds
We are so used to coffee that we don’t even think about how much waste we produce every day. We just drink it up and drain all the wasted grounds into the sink. But this is half of the trouble. What about those who like their coffee on the go?
If we purchase a disposable cup every day, there will be about 10 kg (23 lbs) of waste per year. And not many of these single-use cups would be recycled. That’s why the Kaffeeform decided to change this situation and started to make their cups from recycled coffee grounds. Their surface resembles wood, and the mild coffee aroma completes the design giving their users the additional pleasure of every sip of this delicious drink.
13. Recycle bottles into fabric
Oil is a fossil fuel that accelerates climate change. And most clothing is made of it. Team Timbuktu is another world-changer that tries to not only make sustainable clothes out of plastics from the ocean but also tries to use less energy and water compared to manufacturing traditional synthetic fabrics.
The idea to create fabrics from plastic might seem a little bit crazy, though still ground-breaking, but there’s nothing to worry about. All the raincoats are breathable, sweat-wicking, and durable. The ’bottle ingredient’ doesn’t make them any less comfortable than any of the conventional fabrics, and they look and feel just like regular fabric.
14. Eco-friendly plant and flower pots made from upcycled truck tire inner tubes
Discarded truck tires can be reused as barriers for various races. However, what do we do with their “insides” — the inner tubes? Upcycle Studio found a solution and decided to make plant and flower pots out of them. If you’re a devoted flower lover, that’s a really great and beautiful option for your interior. Besides joining this project, you also can reduce the production of new plastics in the world.
15. Fancy leashes from recycled plastic bottles
Our pets can also participate in this struggle for a better environment. The Anipal has found a way to make collars and many other accessories for animals from recycled plastic bottles and brass hardware. They reasonably consider that all the damage and pollution caused by plastic can be prevented. So they decided to help put an end to it. And if every manufacturer starts thinking the same way, we can achieve tremendous results in the very near future.
16. Making footwear more long-lasting and ’natural’
Allbirds tries to use recycled materials when producing their products as much as possible and find a way to double the lifetime of their footwear.
Today most running shoes are made from a synthetic polymer called polyester. It’s been widely used in our industry, and we have become very dependent on it. But now is the time to change the game’s rules and replace synthetic materials with natural alternatives whenever possible.
17. Premium quality yoga mats from 100% recycled wetsuits
Surfers’ wetsuits are another challenge for creative designers. And although it may seem to us that this material is not such a big problem for the ocean, in reality, due to improper care, the owner of a brand-new wetsuit can throw it out after just one year or so.
Suga decided to reduce the impact of neoprene wetsuits on our environment and started to produce premium quality yoga mats from 100% recycled wetsuits. Besides, the mats can be returned for further recycling at the end of their life. At Suga, they believe that corporations literally should take responsibility for their products “from the cradle to the grave.” And this approach gives us hope for a much brighter future.
18. The first board game made entirely from recycled fishing nets
Discarded fishing nets are the biggest plastic polluter in the ocean. And it’s a serious threat to marine animals and underwater ecosystems. For example, a tiny fish may swim by a bottle or hide inside a tire but can easily get stuck in the nets or get hurt by it.
Bureo cooperates with fishermen in South America and turns discarded fishing nets into high-quality consumer goods. For instance, it takes over 25 square feet (2.3 square meters) of nets to make Jenga Ocean. Just think about how many marine animals these guys have already saved.
19. Print your city and create a beautiful design for urban spaces
“Print Your City” is an experiment that took place in Thessaloniki, Greece. For about 6 months, all the city dwellers could enjoy a series of street furniture printed using plastic waste. It was a part of the ambitious “Zero Waste Future” program. But the idea is so inspirational that we hope many cities will see this kind of design in their urban spaces on an ongoing basis.
Which of these inventions do you like the most? Or maybe you’ve found some other great inventions that may change our world forever? Tell us about them in the comments.