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24 July 2020
The Algae Grower simplifies the process of growing spirulina (a non-toxic blue-green algae) at home, and can produce five grams of biomass per day – enough to satisfy the needs of an average adult. The prototype device, unveiled earlier this month, is designed to fit on a kitchen counter and uses photobioreactor processes to provide the culture with light, heat and air. When it’s ready to be eaten, the spirulina can be collected from a small drawer. Developed by Maurizio Vrenna, a designer, maker, and academic at Politecnico di Torino in Italy, in partnership with the Tsinghua University in Beijing, the Algae Grower was initially published on Wikifactory: a social platform for collaborative product development.
From healing wounds to safer sunscreen, the potential use cases for algae are endless, and some products, including Loliware’s seaweed straws and Ohoo’s edible water pods are already in the hands of consumers. For now, the Algae Grower remains a prototype but it’s another reminder that, as sustainability concerns continue to grow, it won’t be enough to make vague commitments to ‘reduce your impact’. Consumers will look to brands to help them live better (read: more eco-friendly) lives, and that will include everything from the food they eat to the clothes they buy. Be proactive, not reactive: how can you start to develop products that aren’t just about reducing impact but can add positive value to the world?
And just to note: of course eating and growing your own algae won’t be for everyone. But that’s not to say those consumers aren’t interested in eating food that’s good for them and the planet. In the US, Willo, a vertical indoor farm that offers a monthly subscription service, allows users to build their own farm in the startup’s warehouse and have the produce delivered straight to their doorstep. The scheme was so popular that spots are sold out until 2021.
Could you develop new services that exist at the intersection of convenience and positive impact? That goes far beyond food — it could involve turning information, content or a physical product into a rolling service that reduces the impact of that offering and empowers consumers to make more sustainable choices.
The TrendWatching content team