Here’s an interesting TED playlist: Sustainability by design. I just watched them all.
But my picks are the following:
Looks like someone found a way to recycle plastics (too bad the system is patented). Here’s the company that does it. Mike Biddle calls landfills “above ground mines”. Interesting is also his interview with TED. Interesting concepts: take back & recycle programs, environmental arbitrage. Also his explanation of patents (which is actually the first explanation of the patent concept that I hear that is positive for both sides):
Governments grant companies patent protection for a period of time in trade for making the patented technology public and “teaching the art”. This gives others the opportunity to improve upon it and/or use it directly once the patent period expires. Without patent protection, many inventors would instead keep their technologies completely private for as long as possible.
Eben Bayer is co-inventor of MycoBond, an organic (really — it’s based on mycelium, a living, growing organism) adhesive that turns agriwaste into a foam-like material for packaging and insulation.
According to him, styrofoam – which is what his invention is made to replace – occupies 25% of landfills! Also cool: the target is small-scale local production. An other thing he says: “in nature mushrooms are the recycling systems”. I found that sentence interesting because I’ve been thinking that one should be more like mushrooms and feed off the waste of the society (see for example dumpster diving).
In my opinion a fundamental point of view regarding this topic is given by the cradle-to-cradle concept (someone’s waste is someone else’s food).
Ps. Talking about waste: also see my trashlog.