4 awesome environmental innovations of 2019

We hear a lot of doom and gloom around the environment these days. And it’s true: a lot of it is doom and gloom. But there are good things happening too.

Here, we share some of the most impressive – and strangest – environmental innovations of 2019.

Carbon capturing vodka

This vodka captures carbon equivalent to that captured by eight trees in a day.

Imagine being able to say – truthfully – that drinking had a bigger purpose. Well, depending on your alcohol of choice, you can. The company Air Co. has developed a method of using recaptured carbon instead of yeast to produce vodka. This means that each bottle of vodka has removed as much carbon from the air as eight trees would in a day.

In addition, this process requires between 45 and 90 square metres of land, compared with the acres of land required for traditional vodka distilling.

Microorganism headphones

These headphones are made from 100% biological activity.

Plastic-free headphones? Great, you say. Headphones made from microorganisms (tiny creatures found in soil, water, and all through your bodies)? You’re pulling my leg, you say.

Nope. I’m not.

So, how does it work?

The headband is made from lactic acid produced by yeast. The ear padding is a protein produced by fungus. The leather is the core of a mushroom (mycelium). The mesh that touches the ears is biosynthetic spider silk.

Known as Korvaa, these headphones are made from 100% biological activity. While all electrical components are missing from the prototype researchers have developed, they hope to incorporate them in the future.

Old shoes to new shoes

Adidas Loop shoes are 100% recyclable.

Adidas have developed a shoe that can be ground down at the end of its life to make new shoes. The idea is that, when a customer has worn out their current ‘Loop’ shoe, they give it back to Adidas to recycle.

This process still has some kinks the company must work out. A major one is that the system is not 1:1, not yet. One old Loop shoe does not literally create one new Loop shoe. That is, 100% of each shoe can be recycled, but each new shoe can only contain 10% recycled shoe to maintain durability and performance. Adidas hopes to improve its technology to create that 1:1 circular economy.

The interesting aspect of the Loop shoe’s development is that, for it to be recycled, a shoe must be similar to a glass bottle, or an aluminium can: that is, contain only one material. However, Adidas says most shoes consist of an average of 12 different materials, including glue and chemicals, making them impossible to recycle. Eventually they stumbled onto a material in one of their other ‘Futurecraft’ shoes that they realised was not only recyclable, but could be used to make laces, textiles, torsion bar – everything. This was the start.

Hopefully Adidas will figure out where their Loop shoe sits in the market and how it will appeal to customers soon, because we are all waiting for them to roll it out en mass.

Solar windows

Imagine running your house off solar without needing huge panels on your roof or in your backyard.

Solar panels are great, yes? But they are also expensive, use a lot of materials, and are large and unwieldy.

Nevertheless, they are still better than non-renewable fossil fuels.

However, solar windows could be a reality very soon. No, you don’t have to sacrifice a view for the sake of sustainable electricity. Solar windows are simply windows that have a thin coating that generates electricity using microcells.

And the best news? That view from your window will be unaffected.


Information taken from Fast Company and Fincyte.

To read about global packaging trends in 2019, or how to have a more sustainable 2020, have a look at our blog.


Article by Tallis Baker.

Planet Friendly Packaging acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we work.