🌷 Tulips and Swimming Pools


Hallo 👋 Did you know? Besides environmental results, investing in a marine protected area could yield a tenfold return on investment through benefits for biodiversity, fishing and tourism 🐠

  • Bhutan is the world’s first carbon-negative country. By incorporating sustainability into its national identity, this Asian country achieved this feat while becoming one of the world’s happiest countries.
  • In the last 20 years, the amount of land devoted to grazing animals to produce meat and milk has begun to shrink worldwide. This land takes twice as much space as agriculture, driving deforestation and degrading grassland while providing only a fraction of our nutritional needs.
  • In Sweden, only one in every 200 tonnes of waste ends up at a landfill site. Following the "recycling revolution," the country now recycles virtually all their garbage, edging closer to a zero-waste lifestyle.
  • Under a new European Union legislation, companies that sell consumer electronics in the EU and the UK will need to ensure those goods are easy to repair for up to 10 years.


🏊‍♂️ The Company That Turns Containers Into Swimming Pools

The Vancouver-based company Modpools converts shipping containers into swimming pools. The CEO, Paul Rathnam, compares containers to cardboard boxes. “They take all of our cargo around the world, safely. And, they’re reusable,” he says. Like kids building new structures out of old boxes, Paul has been upcycling containers into usable spaces for many years.

Modpools purchases single-use containers to make sure they’re as pristine as possible and uses them as building blocks for its pools. Since the construction happens beforehand in the company’s factory near Vancouver, the installation is typically completed within a day. Families can then enjoy luxury-looking pools and spas without the usual on-site burden of construction.

The company already installed about 800 pools across North America and has recently increased its production capacity as the pandemic drove people to make their homes more comfortable and spend their vacations in their backyard.

Why does it matter? Because of the US-China trade deficit, most containers carrying goods from China to America never return and are, therefore, left to rust when they are not recycled.

Modpools seized this opportunity to create a sustainable business that upcycles waste into luxury goods that families can use for decades.

(source: fastcompany.com)

🌷 The Wind Turbines That Are Also Pieces of Art

The Dutch-American company Flower Turbines creates elegant tulip-shaped wind turbines that pose no danger to wildlife and whose noise is undetectable to humans.

Dr. Daniel Farb, the company’s CEO, addressed these issues with patented aerodynamic innovations. While most wind turbines start at 3 m/s, the Wind Tulip is already producing 25-30 watts at this speed. Moreover, traditional turbines cannot be placed close together at the risk of interfering with each other. On the other hand, Wind Tulips drive wind tunnels into each other -- making their neighbours perform 20-50% better. 

Thanks to these innovations, these good-looking turbines are extremely efficient (up to 40%, against 7-10% for their conventional counterparts), especially under slow wind and in limited spaces. They are, therefore, particularly adapted to urban settings.

Why does it matter? Wind farms' opponents often cite noise and biodiversity concerns along with aesthetic issues. As a result, city residents do not leverage wind energy, despite its huge potential, and rely on solar power as a local source of clean energy. However, the latter doesn’t perform well at night or during the winter. 

The Wind Tulips make wind energy available for everybody by allowing people to live and work next to them. Coupled with already existing solar energy sources, they could be the future of locally-produced urban clean energy.

(source: theguardian.com)


🎯 The Guild’s Pick

In the Quad Cities, USA, the Bison Bridge project aims to repurpose Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge on Interstate I-80 to create a wildlife crossing that provides safe passage for bison herds.

Besides saving Illinois millions in demolition costs, this initiative could also attract tourists to this somewhat overlooked part of the country. Indeed, the bridge would feature a prairie strip for the bison to roam as well as a pedestrian area including viewing stations and cafés.

The project is currently in the study and waiting for the approval of the State of Illinois and the Federal Highways Administration. If everything goes according to plan, the construction should begin in 2026 after the design and engineering phases. 

Why does it matter? The bison was a key species for the Native American tribes as it provided them with food, clothing, shelter and was central to their cultural and spiritual belief systems. They also played a crucial part in the plains’ ecosystem until overhunting brought their numbers down to 300.

This project is the perfect opportunity to educate the American people on the bison while improving biodiversity and boosting the local economy.


🌍 Meanwhile, Worldwide…

🥇 In Brussels, a team of scientists are mining gold and silver from the city's sewage. Recycling gold is around 300 times less carbon-intensive than mining it, and studies estimate that Belgium’s sewage could provide up to €1.3 million a year in precious metals. Scientists hope that these metals will one day pay for the cost of clean water.

🌊 Software giant IBM recently launched PlasticNet, an open-source machine learning project that can detect different types of trash in the ocean. The goal is to develop robust detection models and implement them on real-time satellite and camera footage.

🚢 Crowley Maritime Corporation has recently revealed its design for the world’s first 100% electric tugboat. The “eWolf” is expected to hit the water in 2023 and will prevent the emission of 178 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), 2.5 tons of diesel particulate matter, and 3,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) over its first decade of operation.

📱 Archer Calder, a Texas teenager, developed an app to help his nonverbal sister communicate with the rest of the world. Unlike other very expensive alternatives, Freespeech is completely free and open-source.

🏴‍☠️ Clean Ocean Sailing is a group of sailors, surfers, swimmers and divers that remove pieces of plastics from the ocean in Cornwall. So far, they have gathered 50 tonnes of plastic. Some of it is melted down at the Ocean Recovery Project and recycled as sea kayaks to help them find more plastic.

😍 Wholesomeness

That’s a wrap. If you enjoyed this newsletter, please share this post to spread positivity among your friends. For any feedback, reach out and drop a comment here or on The Social Impact Guild - LinkedIn :-)

Have an amazing week ahead 💗

This article was updated on October 17, 2021

🚀 Get the most uplifting trends and social innovation news. Snackable, relevant, inspiring.

Nadia Humbert-Labeaumaz

Entrepreneur, consultant, biosciences and software engineer, working on projects enabling positive impact.