Sustainability

Royal kombu (aka sugar kelp) harvested from the Netherlands’ first organic seaweed farm enriches and flavors the Dutch Weed Burger’s soy-chip-based patty.

Innovation for Good

Is Seaweed the Next Big Alternative to Meat?

From kelp burgers to bacon of the sea, sustainable food entrepreneurs are innovating to charm hungry omnivores

Participants in First Nature Tours help mitigate damages from wildfires in Central Oregon.

Regenerative Tourism Invites Travelers to Get Their Hands Dirty

Vacations that allow tourists to participate in conservation activities, such as habitat restoration, are growing in popularity

Smart windows that tint in response to stimuli such as heat or light, or a user’s preference, are becoming more common, but it may be a while before the tech is mainstream.

What Will It Take for Smart Windows to Go Mainstream?

Specialized glass that keeps heat in during winter and lets it out during summer could make buildings much more efficient

Zeolite, a clay material found in kitty litter, may be the next tool to help reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 

Innovation for Good

Minerals Used in Kitty Litter Could Help Fight Climate Change

A MIT study shows how, when treated with copper, a clay called zeolite can convert methane to carbon dioxide, a less powerful greenhouse gas

The cyanobacteria system runs using sunlight and water.

Innovation for Good

Researchers Use Algae to Power a Computer for Months

The experiment suggests that cyanobacteria 'batteries' could run small devices

Taste testers involved in a recent study preferred chocolate that shattered in their mouth.

Innovation for Good

Have Scientists Designed the Perfect Chocolate?

Part of a burgeoning field of 'edible metamaterials,' Dutch physicists found that 3-D printed spiral-shaped candies give the ideal eating experience

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Innovation for Good

Innovation for Good

A look at the researchers, inventors and community leaders who are bringing creativity and ingenuity to today's biggest challenges

Steered by a computer to loop in the wind, this kite converts wind energy into electricity via a tether attached to a generator on the ground. Currently, such kites can generate enough electricity to power 60 average US households.

Planet Positive

Could High-Flying Kites Power Your Home?

Nearly a dozen companies are betting on computer-controlled, airborne wind energy to electrify the future

Dried cochineal insects — shown here in the center of the photo — can be processed to create several natural dyes such as carmine and cochineal extract. These products get their red hue from carminic acid, a chemical found within the insect.

Scientists Are Making Cochineal, a Red Dye From Bugs, in the Lab

Used to color foods and cosmetics, carminic acid is traditionally 'farmed' from an insect. But researchers are moving to engineer it in microbes

A typical Making the Road trip to South Africa includes a visit to Soweto, a township outside of Johannesburg that was the site of anti-apartheid organizing and violence for years.

Tourism Gets a Refresh in the Hands of Activists Seeking to Decolonize the Industry

Operators practicing 'solidarity tourism' push back against travel that can be environmentally and socially destructive

Some chemical compounds used in sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, are facing scrutiny from legislators and environmental advocates. Scientists are looking to the ultraviolet light-blocking compounds produced by marine organisms as potential replacements.

Designing a More Environmentally Friendly Sunscreen

Scientists are sourcing new ultraviolet ray-blocking compounds from algae, seaweed, cyanobacteria and other marine creatures

While the material is mushroom-based, MycoWorks creates its rigid patented material by engineering mycelium cells as they grow into 3-D structures that intertwine themselves so densely, it makes a tough material, dubbed Fine Mycelium. The material has the strength, durability, and performance as traditional leather.

 

 

This Mushroom-Based Leather Could Be the Next Sustainable Fashion Material

Currently marketed as a luxury fabric, Fine Mycelium is carbon-neutral and can be grown to order

Other biodegradable bioplastics from algae, cornstarch, sawdust have lower emissions over their lifetime than regular oil-based plastics but still, need the energy provided by the fossil-fuel energy grid to manufacture.

Scientists Made an Eco-Friendly Plastic Using DNA From Salmon Sperm

The material requires 97 percent less carbon emissions to make than petroleum-based plastics

LifeLab Design's WarmLife vests are 30 percent warmer than clothing of comparable weight and bulk.

Innovation for Good

This Apparel Company Wants to Have a Profound Effect on Your Energy Use

LifeLabs Design was founded by a pair of Stanford professors who have developed fabrics capable of cooling and warming the wearer

Smithsonian scientist Genevieve Noyce conducts a plant census in a wetland at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland.

 

How the Smithsonian Grapples With Climate Change

As a hub for research and education, the Institution is poised to help the world find solutions to the global challenge

Coffee leaves cultured in laboratory conditions produced a brewed batch that smelled and tasted like the real deal.

Lab-Grown Coffee Passes Taste Test

Finnish researchers brew batch using a bioreactor for a more sustainable, climate-conserving java crop

Can a machine be taught to understand the plant world?

Innovation for Good

Is This Weed-Spotting, Yield-Predicting Rover the Future of Farming?

The robot, developed by Alphabet Inc.'s X, will make its public debut at the Smithsonian

Transplanting a human protein, known for promoting growth, into crops may engender larger, heavier and more bountiful plants.

Innovation for Good

Researchers Transfer a Human Protein Into Plants to Supersize Them

While a promising route to boosting crop yields, experts say more work needs to be done to understand why the tweak works

Oceanix is gearing up to build a prototype of a 5-acre city for 300 residents in a yet-to-be determined location.

Innovation for Good

In the Face of Rising Seas, Are Floating Cities a Real Possibility?

A scale model of Oceanix City, a concept capable of supporting more than 10,000 residents, will be featured in the Smithsonian's upcoming 'Futures' exhibit

The entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.

Fifty Years Ago, Berkeley Restaurant Chez Panisse Launched the Farm-to-Table Movement

'Local, organic, sustainable' are common buzzwords on American menus now, but it wasn't always that way

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