What does a cow harness have in common with seed pods, outdoor apparel, and a device that reduces toxic particles in the air? All four of them just won the inaugural Terra Carta Design Lab award.
The Terra Carta Design Lab was launched by Apple’s former chief design officer Jony Ive, Prince Charles, and London’s Royal College of Art. It challenged over 2,300 RCA students and alumni to propose credible solutions to the climate crisis.
The four teams were chosen out of 125 submissions, including a student-led startup that wants to transform cremated ashes into oyster reefs. Winners will receive 50,000 pounds (or the equivalent of $62,730) in funding to further develop their ideas, plus mentorship by Ive. And while some of these ideas are still in their early stages, they’re all proof that small designs can have big impact.
A high-tech harness for cows
Methane accounts for about 30% of global warming, and about one-third of that comes from livestock. There are 1.6 billion cattle on Earth, and each of them exhales (yes, that includes burps) about 400 liters (or 105 gallons) of methane every day.
The British startup ZELP (Zero Emissions Livestock Project) has designed a wearable device that can reduce emissions from cattle by about 60%. The device works a bit like a high-tech harness that fits comfortably around the cow’s head. As the animal exhales, methane travels through a small chamber in the harness where it’s oxidized, then released into the air as CO2 and water vapor—all without affecting the cow’s behavior or ability to eat.
A device that collects tire waste
Every time we brake, accelerate, or turn a corner, the friction wears out our tires. This wear produces particles that can affect our lungs and be swept into our waterways, making it the second largest microplastic pollutant in our oceans (single-use plastics still reign supreme). This applies to electric cars, too: While EVs can help cut tailpipe emissions, they’re significantly heavier than gas-powered cars, which can impact the amount of wear on the tires.
In response, the Tyre Collective is developing a device that would be clipped onto the hub and extend around the tire to capture about 60% of all airborne particles. Eventually, the team wants to create a closed-loop, where the fragments would be separated, and particles under 50 microns would be small enough to be reused in new tires—or various other applications.
Seed pods that replenish our soils
Damage to forests and the loss of trees cause around 10% of global warming, making reforestation and restoration an important part of the fight against climate change. That’s why Studio Ayaskan has created Aerseeds. These aerodynamic seed pods are made from food waste and designed to deliver nutrients and seeds to soils that have been depleted by human activity. The idea is that the pods would be tossed into the air and carried by the wind to hard-to-reach areas.
A fully recyclable outdoor-performance textile
Outdoor clothing is notoriously difficult to recycle. First, because waterproof textiles are made from multiple layers of fabric that are bonded together and therefore can’t be separated for recycling. Second, because high-performance fabrics are typically made from expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) that can produce highly toxic acid when incinerated.
As a result, material innovation startup Amphibio has created the first 100% recyclable and chemical-free outdoor-performance textile. Amphitex will be made from a combination of recycled and plant-based feedstock. All the layers are being developed from the same source material, creating a single-material garment that’s easy to recycle. And the new material requires no additional coating to make it water-repellent.