Sustainable innovators

… With ideas that can possibly take over the world.

The world we live in today doesn’t stop evolving. Can you imagine the life 100 years back in time?  Cars were just accessible to the masses and the Eiffel tower was the tallest building in the world!… Or the life in the 1990s? The life before mobile phones and the internet. Nowadays, we can simply ask our personal assistant, Google, almost every question. We’ll know the answers right away! And still, a lot is changing – and fast. So, who could be the next innovators, with a sustainable twist?

Just think about it… If Nikolai Tesla wouldn’t have lived, would we have electricity around the world? It only takes one person with an idea to make a change in the world. The following two ideas can already make a big difference for our planet!

  • plant-based bottles

Approximately 40%  of the global plastic production nowadays is for, non-sustainable, single-use plastic. But what’s the use for single-use plastic that takes up forever to decompose? A plastic bottle is believed to take up to 450 years! Would it matter to you if the plastic bottle, fork or knife would be decomposed in a matter of weeks to months? As our oceans and land suffer from our addiction to plastic, many researchers keep on investigating more sustainable possibilities.

Arí Jonsson is someone who already accomplished such a goal. He is an Icelandic product designer who invented a 100% biodegradable (even eatable) water bottle from algae. It remains intact when filled with water and starts decomposing when the bottle is empty!

Ari Jonnson innovators earthlyiris
Image via Arí Johnsson

Big names in the plastic industry (like DuPont and BaSF) are currently selling bio-BASED plastics. These plastics are using bio-derived ‘raw materials’, which is already a step in the good direction. But, the ultimate goal would be to create a new generation of fully biodegradable plastics, like the ones Arí invented. The ‘Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence’ at the University of York is currently cooperating with the industry.  One possible outcome could indeed be the use of cellulose – derived from plants. Their research project is still ongoing and will be published in the summer of 2019.


  • The SMOG free project

Daan Roosegaarde is a man that sets another example of one person that can make a big difference. He combined his passion for art with actual sustainable innovation. While he was staying in Shanghai, he couldn’t see the other side of the street due to smog. This eventually led to a giant ‘smog vacuum cleaner‘.

The 7-meter high tower cleanses 30.000m3 of polluted air per hour due to a process called positive ionization. The air that contains ‘atmospheric particular matter’ (PM) gets sucked into the tower. Here, a positive ion is attached. Since these PM’s are now positively charged: they are attracted to a negative charge, just like a magnet! The small, microsized, particles all come together on a negatively charged surface: where they form macroscopic particles (like dust). The dust cannot be transported by air anymore, avoiding the danger of being breathed in.

Fun fact: the dust can be gathered and compressed into jewelry. An item like that contributes to 1000m3 of cleaner air in a city!

Daan Roosegaarde innovators earthlyiris
Image via Daan Roosegaarde Studio

As you can see, one person can make a big difference!


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