One of the main reasons my wife and I started Two Birds Apparel was to offer consumers a better alternative, both ethically and environmentally. In our latest blog post on the Two Birds Apparel Blog we provide some reasons why … Continue reading →
This past summer I saw a number of people post messages on facebook about an innovative design concept for mobile phones called Phonebloks. My favourite explanation of the concept is that it is the Lego of cell phones. The idea is that a global standard for mobile phones is created with removable components, or bloks, that can be upgraded individually or changed out if a component stops working. The original concept video does a great job explaining the design:
This concept has huge implications for electronic waste (e-waste). Imagine the next time your iPhone processor becomes too slow to handle the new operating system you could just buy a new processor blok and swap out the old one instead of scrapping the whole phone. Not to mention the savings from preventing a purchase of another $700 device or signing your life away to your wireless service provider. The Phonebloks website also suggests additional e-waste prevention possibilities that include biodegradable bloks, locally manufactured bloks (e.g., produced within 100km from your home), or second hand bloks.
Phonebloks used a technique they call “crowd speaking” to leverage the power of social media to gain attention from the giant telecom companies who have the size, balance sheets and technological know-how to make this idea a reality. I find it incredibly impressive how much this duo from the Netherlands has managed to achieve based on their concept video and leverage of their fans’ social networks. The company has successfully developed a partnership with (now Google-owned) Motorola – a former leader in mobile phone devices that has been trying to win back market share from Apple and Samsung. As a Google company, new and innovative approaches to technology are welcomed. Phonebloks created a second video to document their plans for future prototyping and information regarding their partnership with Motorola:
While this is an interesting concept, it is certainly not without its challenges. Mobile device companies would need to agree on a standard and might give up revenues due to fewer whole device sales. This also is not the only design concept for a modular phone (see this article on Eco-Mobius) – perhaps several mobile device companies will come out with their own version of the Phoneblok to keep device components proprietary to their brand. On the flip side, a global, open-source standard would allow companies to focus on their strongest areas, which could do great things for mobile innovation. For example, Apple could focus on creating the greatest operating system and user experience, while Canon and Nikon develop camera components. Personally, I would love to see something like this concept succeed. What do you think?
The definition of social returns is left open to interpretation by individual investors. In particular, while the social returns could reflect the altruistic motivations of an investor, they could also be defined more conventionally as the amount the investor spends on themselves (as we discuss in more detail below). Altruistic social returns also don’t have to be strictly social (e.g. job creation, health improvement, poverty reduction, etc.); they could also be related to the environmental good created by different investments (e.g. carbon reduction, water improvement, etc.).
My first two posts outlined three broad categories of ways to invest your money: with conventional, impact and philanthropic investments. I then suggested a few basic investment strategies you might follow to maximize your long-term social return if these investments provided the following returns:
In my first post on How can you invest for maximum impact? I suggested that there are three basic “first guess” approaches you might take if you want to maximize the “social” returns on your investments. In this post I analyse these approaches in more detail.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to have savings have a wide variety of options when it comes to investing our money. Depending on your goals and your investment horizon you can choose to invest in risky growth stocks, just keep your money in your savings account, or everything in between.
Now consider what happens if you also take into consideration the social and environmental impact that can be attributed to your investments. Continue reading →
Photovoltaic (solar) technology is a popular area of R&D, and as such, this technology is improving every year. The researchers in this video believe that we can harness even more of the sun’s power by integrating solar cells into the clothes we wear. The use case they provide suggests people at music festivals or other outdoor events might benefit the most as they could charge their phones on the go. Thinking out loud, I could see this as having even more practical applications, like charging a laptop in a coffee shop without plug outlets, or supplementing grid power or electric vehicle batteries if the technology was efficient enough. I definitely agree with the researchers though that in order for this to be an effective means of energy generation, the cells should be integrated into the textiles themselves, rather than sewn in as rigid panels. This will probably help designers create more classic garments for the masses, rather than the Matrix-esque robes depicted in the video.
Artist, neuroscientist, environmental activist, robot-builder, fish medium – meet Natalie Jeremijenko. I was fortunate to hear Jeremijenko speak at the US Green Building Council’s annual conference, Green Build, in 2011, and was blown away by the creativity, wit and intellect of this passionate advocate for the environment. Not your typical visual artist (a subject which she teaches at NYU), Jeremijenko hold’s bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and physics, a Ph.D. in computer science and electrical engineering, and made progress towards other doctorate degrees in neuroscience, the philosophy of science and mechanical engineering.
As I try to boil down some of Jeremijenko’s projects into a few key sentences, I keep imagining a mad scientist, creating Frankenstein’s monster – I mean this as a compliment though as I think this kind of brilliant creativity is reserved for a select few. Continue reading →
The future of luxury is sustainable – design and indulgences that don’t compromise the ability of later generations to experience luxury themselves.
Luxury brands, in particular, have a vested interest in establishing a legacy. Sustainable design and practices can make this a reality.
*Quote by yours truly, adapted from my response to a question about the future of luxury on twitter.