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Inspiring Innovation


Innovation is change that unlocks new value. - Jamie Notter

We often hear that innovation comes from tweaking an idea that came before. All innovators and inventors observe the world around them and try to make it better. They take the problems of the world and make solutions.

Often we think about innovation in the context of the business world. How can we make a product or process run more efficiently to improve the bottom line or make a bigger profit? Even this idea has new innovation as people all over the world are beginning to consider the triple bottom line (social, environment and financial benefits).

Whether we are talking about biomimicry, learning from nature to design a product (such as the Wright Brothers observing pigeons to come up with the idea of flight) or solving problems of an inefficient process (such as when Henry Ford developed mass production). We can all be innovators!

I thought I would highlight some innovations happening today to get you motivated and thinking positive about our environmental future.

Problem#1: The amount of plastic in our oceans.

Solution: Harvesting the plastic to produce products.

4ocean is a company that was founded when two friends who enjoy surfing, fishing and diving took a trip to Bali, Indonesia. There they found the beaches covered with plastic only hours after they were cleaned. Their eyes were opened to the plastic problem in our oceans and they vowed to find a solution. Their company harvests plastic from the oceans to repurpose it as bracelets. Each bracelet purchase helps to pull 1 pound of plastic from our oceans.

Problem #2: The declining bee population.

Solution: Robotic Bees

B-droid – Scientists from the Warsaw University of Technology have developed a robotic bee that can help natural bee populations with the most taxing activity – pollination. They are using technology (robots) to pollinate agricultural crops.

Problem #3: Air pollution from gasoline and diesel fuel

Solution: Biodiesel from cooking oil – A Local Solution!

Great Lakes Brewing Company has a vehicle called the Fatty Wagon which transports people from their restaurant to Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena. This vehicle runs on a 20% blend of biodiesel made from cooking oil from their Brewpub. This biodiesel also is used in their delivery vehicles too.

Problem # 4: Increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the air - which is linked to climate change.

Solution: Carbon Engineering is a company that has developed a technology called Direct Air Capture that captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to make fuel and also bury it back underground.

These solutions are only a tiny pin prick of the amazing innovations that are happening in our world. So remember: Problems are only something we haven’t yet found a solution to. Big or small, let’s get to work observing and thinking of more solutions that can help us fix the world around us.

Innovation is seeing what everyboy had seen and thinking what nobody has thought. - Dr. Albert Srent-Gyorgyi


Blog Author: Carla Regener, Program Manager of Natural Resources

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