1. A solar-powered lamp made from simple materials.
What it is: The Liter of Light is a simple solar-powered lamp made from just a plastic bottle, water, and glue.
How it will change things: Just one of these simple lights can illuminate an entire home without electricity at a tiny cost, making it invaluable in times of crisis, such as the recent typhoon-ravaged Philippines.
2. A natural, fungus-based replacement for toxic home insulation.
What it is: A natural, renewable, and biodegradable insulation material grown from agricultural waste and mushroom mycelium (a naturally produced glue) from the folks at Ecovative Design.
How it will change things: This non-toxic home insulation material has the potential to completely replace the usual petroleum-based plastic foams, which are highly toxic and harmful to the environment.
3. A water-recycling shower that eliminates 90% of water waste and hundreds of dollars from water bills.
What it is: A real-time water-recycling shower that purifies the water as you shower, without affecting the water’s pressure.
How it will change things: Orbital Systems, the company behind the amazing invention, claims it can reduce water waste by 90% and save households almost $1,000 a year in bills.
4. A bus that helps purify the air we breathe as it moves.
What it is: Phytokinetic is a lightweight gardening system that can be placed on top of large vehicles to ameliorate the air around it.
How it will change things: Buses and trucks equipped with the PhytoKinetic system can help clean the air of CO2 in dense cities in which they circulate. Plus, plants make everything smell better, so it can only be a good thing!
5. A personal airbag for cyclists that protects them from injury — and from a bad hair day.
What it is: The Hövding Airbag for Cyclists is a great new bicycle helmet that you can take with you everywhere, without the bulk of a traditional helmet.
How it will change things: The lightweight airbag is worn around the neck and only employs, much like a car airbag, upon impact. Cyclists can take the foldable helmet with them everywhere, making it more effortless and less cumbersome than the usual hard shell bike helmets.
6. A clever bag that cooks without using energy.
What it is: The Wonderbag is a simple “heat-retention cooker that allows food that has been brought to a boil, to continue cooking after it has been removed from the fuel source.”
How it will change things: Wonderbags are not only beautiful and easy to use, they have also been proven to greatly reduce the environmental impact of cooking since the system requires food only to be heated up for a short moment before being placed inside the bag.
7. A new building method which utilizes plastic bottle waste.
What is is: A clever building method using plastic bottles filled with sand and cemented together, which renders its walls both fireproof and bulletproof.
How it will change things: If adopted widely, this method could both alleviate the issue of plastic bottle waste — the U.S. alone uses 129.6 million plastic bottles per day — and affordable housing.
8. A clay-based sponge that absorbs oil from oil spills.
What it is: A lightweight, clay-based sponge that draws toxic oil out and leaves clean water behind.
How it will change things: While it’s still being tested, scientists at Case Western University have found that the specially formulated aerogel effectively skims oil from contaminated waters. This could potentially make oil cleanups more speedy and effective.
9. A coat designed to double as a sleeping bag, which also provides jobs to homeless women.
What it is: The Empowerment Plan is a project centered around a coat designed to double as a sleeping bag, created by a student of Detroit’s College for Creative Studies and sewn from materials donated by formerly homeless women.
How it will change things: In its home base of Detroit, the project has already changed the lives of many homeless and less fortunate people by providing them with jobs and a warm garment to help them through the winter.
10. A backpack that can transport large quantities of water with ease.
What it is: The PackH2O Water Backpack is just what it sounds like — a water transportation device that makes carrying large amounts of water safer and easier.
How it will change things: The PackH2O eliminates the need for using contaminated containers and alleviates the pain of having to carry water with one’s arms. It’s also a low-cost solution, so it has the potential to really change water transportation in certain countries.