3 Surprising Climate Change Solutions You Never Would’ve Thought Of
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We’ve got no shortage of problems, especially when it comes to the planet. Which is exactly why I wanna highlight to some of the coolest climate change solutions coming to market. These innovations could literally be the key to solving big environmental problems like climate change and plastic pollution. And the quicker we start talking about them, the faster they’re gonna disrupt the way we do things. So in the spirit of Earth Month, here are some of my favorite planet-saving endeavors happening right now.
3 climate change solutions that are gonna blow your socks off:
Climate Change Solution #1: Plastic is out. Mushrooms are in.
Plastic is so deeply entrenched in our lives, it’s hard to think about life without plastic. Now, you might be wondering: “if plastic is bad. What’s an alternative that won’t completely change our way of life?”
The answer is: mushrooms! And more specifically: mycelium.
Mycelium serves as the root structure for mushrooms. It can be used to create all kinds of things from packaging to cruelty-free leather to furniture and building insulation. This is awesome because so many of the synthetic products we rely on are made from fossil fuels, so this solution not only curb sour fossil fuel dependance but also gives us more organic solutions that aren’t as big of a burden as plastic.
There’s a company in upstate New York called Ecovative that’s using mycelium to make plastic-free styrofoam packaging, plant-based meats and even furniture. Pretty insane right? Here’s a lil video what they’re working on:
There’s also another company based out of the UK called Biohm that’s using mycelium to create building insulation that actually performs better than traditional building insulation made from fossil fuels. Not only that, it’s non-toxic and it sequesters carbon. So here we have a better performing, non-toxic, healthier solution that also sequesters carbon. Ummm…hello…why isn’t this in every hardware store already?!?!
BTW: you might be wondering what the heck “sequestering carbon” means. So just in case that question is looming in your head, here it is: carbon sequestration is when carbon is sucked out of the atmosphere. As you know, too much carbon in the atmosphere warms the planet…like a lot, so we need to find innovative ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere. The simplest example of carbon sequestration happens in photosynthesis. Plants suck carbon out of the atmosphere and they convert it into oxygen. This is nature’s badass way of doing it, but there are a lot of other ways too, and mycelium is just one.
Climate Change Solution #2: Seafood is out. Seaweed is in!
Ok so seafood isn’t totally out. But it’s become harder and harder to find seafood that’s legitimately sustainable. If you’re curious about this, I suggest checking out the new Netflix documentary: Seaspiracy. The long and short of it is: stay away from store-bought seafood and only buy directly from small-scale, local fishermen where you can verify their practices. My take is a little different from what the director wanted you to leave the documentary feeling, nothing is black and white. I try to stay away from seafood as much as I can, but there are always exceptions…and indulgences.
But don’t let me digress…I wanna focus on seaweed, because it’s the underdog that’s ready to come out of the climate closet.
Seaweed is not just some green smelly thing that washes up on the shore. It’s on its way to being one of the biggest climate change solutions we’ve ever seen. According to Bren Smith, a kelp farmer, kelp (aka seaweed) can remove “5 times more carbon than land based plants” which is insane!
“Seaweed can play a huge role in fighting climate change by absorbing carbon emissions, regenerating marine ecosystems, creating biofuel and renewable plastics as well as generating marine protein….Over the past decade, global seaweed production has doubled—with an estimated value of $59.61 billion in 2019—as interest in seaweed as a food source, carbon sink option and renewable product from consumers, farmers, researchers, and business leaders blossoms” (TIME).
And we’re not just talking about harvesting naturally occurring seaweed. There are actual seaweed farms in the ocean that are completely redefining what a farm is. These farms promote polyculture. This is because the seaweed itself creates other opportunities for sea-life to grow, breed and flourish. So it’s a farm that actually benefits the ecosystems around it (rather than depleting it like most monoculture industrial farms).
Here’s a look at what seaweed farming looks like:
Why isn’t this already a thing?
The biggest problem right now is that seaweed isn’t really part of the western palette. It’s been a staple in Asian cultures for ages, but we need to develop a market for it in the US that can scale up. As of right now, people are trying to figure out how to turn seaweed into the soy of today. By that, what I mean is: they’re trying to create a market where it’s in everything: from flour to beer to bio plastics. Because the only way this can really be a climate change solution is if it scales like a muthaf**ker!
This natural solution that can easily be amped up to sequester carbon, promote polyculture, encourage and invigorate biodiversity, and feed the world. If you wanna learn more about seaweed farming, I’d suggest you listen to the How To Save a Planet Podcast, which has a 2 part episode on Kelp (seaweed) farming and all of the cool innovations happening right now.
Side note: that podcast is my new personal fave. It conversationally talks about the most common questions people have around the planet and climate change. And it’s not dry or boring. It’s actually stimulating to listen to. If only all environmental podcasts were like that! Anyways, here’s part 1 and part 2 of How to Save a Planet’s episode on Kelp Farming. Part 1 focuses on the benefits of kelp and part 2 dives into the market opportunities.
Climate Change Solution #3: Hand built is out. 3-D printing is in.
You know I love anything hand-made, but one thing that’s super inefficient is the traditional way we build homes. This is one industry where technology and, in particular, 3-D printing is gonna vastly change the way the construction industry functions. But how does this pertain to the planet? Well here’s a little fun fact! Did you know that cement is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions? Didn’t see that one coming, did ya? Yea, me neither.
So now that you know that cement is a big problem. The climate change solution lies in 2 things: 3-D printing and mud. Ok, not mud but clay!
A 3D printing company and an architectural firm in Italy have joined forces to bring affordable 3D printed homes using natural materials to market. They’re using “locally sourced clay which has been used for centuries in countries like India as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to cement – clay is a biodegradable and recyclable material that will make the building a zero-waste structure” (Yanko Design). Imagine a world where local clay is used to build all housing and commercial buildings using a 3D printer? Think of how fast we could eliminate global housing insecurity, how fast we could build refugee and migration camps, and how much less carbon would be in the atmosphere?!?!
Who would have thought that climate change solutions lied in nature!?!?! (ummmm … me…that would be me! 🙋🏻♀️ ). And while I didn’t come up with any of these innovations, you better believe I’m gonna be spreading the word. Just think of how incredible, fascinating and regenerative these 3 innovations are. If you’re super interested in this kinda stuff, check out my other post on planet-saving innovations where I talk about air protein and tree-planting drones.
Ok one more cool video on mycelium:
Which climate change solutions are you most excited about?
Let me know in the comments below