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It’s a question that may cause some to roll their eyes: what are you thankful for? Instead of affirming to our family and friends that we still love and appreciate everything they do for us, we thought we’d take it one step further. Here are four green innovations helping to protect the planet and keep the environment clean that we’re thankful for today.

Ocean Plastic Cleanup Tech
Ocean Plastic Cleanup Tech
Recent estimates put the volume of plastic waste in the world’s oceans at around five trillion pieces, weighing close to 300,000 tons. That’s a problem, especially when you consider that, globally, we are compounding the issue by producing around 300 million tons of plastic every year. Plastic dumped into the ocean typically ends up in one of the five major ocean gyres on the planet— in other words, the largest landfills on earth are actually floating out at sea.

In 2013, one young engineer developed a plan to help clean up the mess. Boyan Slat and his Ocean Cleanup Foundation plans to build a network of arrays inside these massive ocean gyre garbage patches, using the ocean currents themselves to catch and contain floating bits of plastic waste. The long, v-shaped arms of the array float on the water’s surface, funneling any plastic waste caught by the current to a central collection point. From here the material is extracted, cleaned of debris, and eventually sent ashore to be recycled.

To learn more about this ambitious project, visit The Ocean Cleanup’s official website here:

Modular Electronics
Modular Electronics
Modular electronics are the answer to an age-old policy of consumption: planned obsolescence, or the idea that products are designed to become obsolete or out of fashion, predictably keeping you coming back to the store. New versions of our favorite smartphones are released regularly, they become unfashionable, support from the brand starts to dwindle, or they break at predictable intervals.

Here’s where modularity can help stop the cycle, and prevent you from throwing that obsolete, unfashionable smartphone with a broken camera lens in the trash. A modular electronic device allows you to deconstruct its components for repair, replacement or upgrade, all without the need to replace your entire device.

There are several examples of modular smartphones already, or soon to be, out on the market. The Fairphone 2 was one of the earliest modular phones to hit the scene, featuring a modular camera, display, top and bottom. Recently, Lenovo’s Moto Z has announced it has a modular feature, allowing you to purchase higher quality cameras, projectors or speakers and plug them in with ease.

Modularity is a step in the right direction, giving consumers the power to hold onto their favorite electronics for longer. Upgrade your device piece by piece, or send off an individual component of your smartphone repair without sacrificing the entire device. It’s more sustainable, saves cash, and is just downright cool.

Bike Shares
Bike Shares
Whether it’s Citi Bike, B-cycle, Metro Bike Share in L.A. or Chicago’s Divvy Bikes, you’ve probably seen a bike share station somewhere in your travels. Sometimes for as low as $5 a day, you’re able to rent a bicycle and explore the city (or rush to an appointment) — all without a single greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere.

Bike shares have a lot of potential to reduce greenhouse gases in our most populated cities. In fact the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy estimates the broad adoption of bike shares could reduce transportation emissions in metropolitan areas by 11 percent. Think about those implications: 11 percent reduction in carbon emissions; less congestion on our roads and in public transportation; a healthier and more active population.

If you’re planning on visiting a new city and want to find a bike sharing service nearby, check out this list to help plan accordingly:

The Electric Car
The Electric Car
According to the EPA, cars and transportation are responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. That could very well change the deeper into the 21st century we get, however. Thanks to a ceaseless stream of innovation in the electric vehicle industry, we may be witnessing the internal combustion engine slowly becoming a thing of the past.

When the first Tesla Roadster hit the market in 2008, it marked the beginning of a new boom in the all-electric automobile industry. Today, car manufacturers around the world are feeling the pressure to adapt to this growing market. From Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus Electric, the Honda Fit and many more, electrics cars have proven their viability on the market – and then some. / Issue 197 - August 2018
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