Design Thinking to Save the World

There is a lot of talk about food shortages, environmental catastrophes and impending doom for the human race. We’ve always had Cassandras, daughter of the king of Troy who had the gift of prophecy but was never believed, screaming that the world is coming to an end due to man-made or natural occurrences. It seems we never listen, but then we find out that some folks do. These are the people who choose to do something about it and in this case with design no less. 

Over the next few weeks we will share product or service design ideas that in some way, shape or form are relevant to addressing sustainability issues the world may or may not be facing at this time.

1. An impending Food Crisis: On Fareed Zakaria’s GPS this past week, a statistic was thrown out suggesting that more than one-third of the world’s food is either wasted or damaged. Kampachi Farms, a company focused on marine aquaculture (‘mariculture’), is building an unanchored free-drifting oceanic fish culture system. Basically, these are fish farms that exist deeper out in the ocean. It’s a very innovative approach to solving the lack of fish and sustainable fish supplies. We all know that protein is an important part of every meal! 

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2. Energy Conservation: It’s hard to get people to change behavior, especially bad habits that we do not realize we have. One of those bad habits is leaving on our electronics when we walk away from, say, a TV. The biggest culprit I am referring to in this case is our computer. The Greencam attempts to solve this problem while tapping into the insight that we will not likely break this habit on our own. However, with the aid of a PC app it is more feasible. The Greencam acts as a motion sensor and turns off the PC monitor when the user walks away. Did I mention that this very exciting product from the Brazilian firm Ecobenficios is a free app?

3. Transportation: Despite the insight Ecobenficios have about our unwillingness and laziness to take energy efficiency actions, there are some of us out there who are still very engaged and participate. Some consumers participate by purchasing electric vehicles. Unfortunately, some people feel that this is counter intuitive since charging an electric vehicle requires electricity generated from sources such as a coal fired power plant. Even if that is true the likely shift in power usage times (if you charge your EV at night) should provide some load balancing respite to power stations. An app that caters to the EV buying segment of the market is the GreenChargeApp. The app helps you monitor your driving patterns, charging cost and see how you are positively or adversely impacting the environment. I haven’t used the app myself (I’d need an electric car for that) but I met the founder of the company behind this app, Forrest North, and his heart is definitely in the right place. When you get your Electric Vehicle be sure to download this app.

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These are just three of the concepts we are highlighting this week. We will be sharing other product or service design ideas from other companies next week. Come back to read up on those!

In the meantime, share any thoughts you have on these three concepts or examples of other companies in the same space, providing even cooler products and services!


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