Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience
October 8th, 2015

I love it when I come across articles that describe how companies are using waste products in unconventional ways.  I find the solutions for everyday waste products both fascinating and surprising (and in some cases think – I should have thought of that!).

Take a look at some of these really cool recycle ideas:

1.  Turning tomatoes into plastics – because the demand for plastics is growing, more thought is needed on how to sustainably satisfy the demand.  Auto-giant Ford has been leading research into 100% bio-based plastics, teaming up with Heinz in a mutually beneficial heinzWhile producing their world famous ketchup, Heinz generates up to 2 million tons of stems, seeds and skins every single year. In a collaboration with plastics research specialists from Ford, the companies are striving to create a plastic material from plant byproducts which can be used in many aspects of automotive design and finishing.  The Coca-Cola Company, Nike Inc. and Procter & Gamble are also involved in the project, which will incorporate bio-plastic material into everything from packaging to clothing, making a huge dent in the impact of petrochemical-based products on the environment.

2.  De-icing roads with cheese brine – yes, you read that correctly.  The Wisconsin city of Milwaukee has discovered a way to alleviate the dairy manufacturers’ problem of disposing of thousands upon thousands of gallons of cheese brine (the salty liquid which is left over after the production of Wisconsin’s famous soft cheeses).  They will use this cheese brine waste to treat the harsh winter roadways which freeze over with ice.  This new partnership saves tens of thousands of dollars for the municipality and manufacturers every year.

blog milwaukee

3.  Making beer with unsold bread – The “Brussels Beer Project” led by the Belgium micro-brewers have teamed up with a local sustainability group to produce “Babylone”- a beer made using leftover bread which would otherwise have been thrown out.

Talented brewing specialists were able to reduce the amount of barley used in the brewing process and replace it with bread sourced from local supermarkets, a move which sees an average of 500kg worth of unused loaves that find their way into 4000 liters of amber ale.

blog bread

4.  Using sugar beets to cool refrigerators – Anaerobic digestion, the process by which biodegradable waste materials are converted into energy or heat – has become a staple in the quest for greener industry.  The success of anaerobic digestion led UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s to investigate new ways in which food byproducts could be utilized, leading to the implementation of eCO2: an alternative refrigerant which is derived from waste sugar beet.

blog sugar beets

Piles of sugar beets. Waste beet material is being used to create eCO2.

eCO2 meets all the refrigeration requirements of CO2, but is manufactured in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way. The same manufacturer that supplies Sainsbury’s with sugar also supplies the refrigeration company with the waste beet material necessary for creating eCO2, which Sainsbury’s will use to cut their CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020.

Do you have any waste produced that you can recycle into something that reduces the draw on our natural resources?

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October 7th, 2015

Lego has been enjoying a resurgance in popularity due to the current use of Robotics to enhace the science curriculum in all grade levels.  But, alas, paper dolls seem to be a thing of my youth – I rarely see these simple toys in the hands (never mind imaginations) of the little ones I encounter…  Even stuffed animals – once an inanimate object to whom one could whisper their innermost dreams and secrets – are undergoing a renaissance.   So, what are the tech toys making a splash?  Read up on some of them here…

This high-tech plush toy will be

your child’s new BFF


Tech bear

Image: Mashable/Jhila Farzaneh

Check out some other fun playthings – - courtesy of

Fisher Price


And if you’re young (or young-ish or just ‘young at heart’…) you may want to book yourself a trip to NYC for the 2016 Toy Fair where all the latest gizmos and gadgets to delight your inner child will be on display! Click the logo below to learn more…

Toy Fair

Will you be putting the next ‘must-have’ toy in the hands of children everywhere?  There’s no limit to what YOUR imagination might dream up…

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October 5th, 2015

We’ve had a few blogs over the past year that make reference to Origami – the ancient art of paper-folding brought to us by the Japanese.  The intricacies of these creations, made by human hands, is nothing short of breathtaking.  Modern day technology is seeking to take advantage of the principles of historic art forms to break new ground…  And here’s the most recently reported result!

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (UM) have used the ancient art of paper cutting, known as kirigami, to create a unique thin-film solar cell that can use a method of following the sun called optical tracking.


Read the article direct from the school’s website

Inspired by art,


lightweight solar cells


track the sun


U Mich Solar kirigami

And take a look at the LiveScience story on the same topic:  Japanese Paper Art Inspires Sun-Tracking Solar Cell

Solar energy use is growing in popularity everywhere.  Will you be on the ‘cutting edge’ like these U Mich students?

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Electronic displays for integration with clothing and textiles are a rapidly developing field in the realm of wearable electronics. Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have created a fiber-like LED that can be directly knitted or woven to form part of the fabric itself.

“Our research will become a core technology in developing light emitting diodes on fibers, which are fundamental elements of fabrics,” said Professor Choi, head of the research team at the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST. “We hope we can lower the barrier of wearable displays entering the market.”

blog fiber

Researchers have created an LED fiber that can be directly woven into textiles to form an integrated flexible display (Credit: KAIST)

If you’d like to get into the conversation on wearable displays, there is an annual convention next to be held in San Fransico, CA in May 2016.

Find out all of the detail by clicking on the conference picture here:

    blog display week

How much fun will marketeers and the general public have when you can show off your “brand” as you stroll down the street :-)

What will yours display?

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September 29th, 2015

While it may sound like an oxymoron, the WalkCar is a reality.

With mobile phones, an industry was created that changed the communications model and allowed people to talk with one another anytime and anywhere -  free from a ‘land line’.  The WalkCar may do the same for the auto industry.  It may be an item that will revolutionize the way we think about transportation – in addition to helping solve the dilemma of being unable to find a parking spot in a crowded urban location!!

As described by Charles Osgood on CBS Radio:  It is a lightweight aluminum board that – despite looking like a cookie sheet on wheels – has a top speed of over six miles an hour and a range of nearly seven-and-a-half miles when fully charged. …  The device is also pretty simple to maneuver, with the rider just shifting his weight to change direction.

Kuniaki Sato is the CEO of Cocoa Motors, which makes the WalkCar. He told Reuters it was designed to fit in a small bag…

Check out the video on YouTube here:



For those of us who haven’t mastered a skateboard, this may be a tad unnerving – I like to have something to hold on to when I’m free-rolling along a sidewalk.  But, it certainly looks like fun!  And it’s a non-polluting source of mobility.  What’s your opinion?

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