Terra in Terrarium

 2018-12-18 By: Elroy Yao

One of the most interesting method of planting crops in small spaces is a terrarium; a small garden in a bottle that requires minimum additional resources or care. In several cases, the terrarium is almost a perfectly self-sustaining ecosystem that recycles nearly all resources efficiently. The question to ask then is with global resource supplies continuing to decline; can this form of self-sustainability be replicated and scaled up to global level? While not 100% efficient, perhaps there are ways to reduce human’s needs to extracting more resources from the environment.

Vapor to Flagon

While an estimated 71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, approximately only 2.5% is drinkable. According to a 2017 report from WHO, approximately 2.1 Billion people lack access to drinkable water and as the population grows, so too will the need for fresh water. The problem is, as more water gets polluted with waste, the percentage of drinkable water will also decline. Proposed solutions such as desalination plants are often too expensive to be used in locations that need it the most.

Perhaps then, it’s time to move away from intensifying conventional methods of providing drinking water and try new sources of drinking water. For example: a moisture extraction device like the ones produced by Space Apes, an exhibitor of InnoVEX 2018. The device essentially accelerates the natural condensation process and then isolates the collected water to prevent contamination. This solution works best for areas facing economic water scarcity; for example in places with polluted or inaccessible water sources, etc. While the offered solution might not be able to serve the needs of the 2.1 Billion people, a method to achieve water self-sustainability even for a fraction of them will be much better than none.

Waste no Wastes

According to the FAO, approximately one third of food produced in the world is lost or wasted. This means approximately 1.3 billion metric tons of food worth USD 990 Billion is lost and wasted. While prevention of wastage is the best solution; handling the currently existing waste must be done properly to prevent an outbreak of pests, diseases, or contamination. Before all of this however, the waste will need to be collected.

To ensure that the collection is done properly and as soon as necessary, perhaps an IoT device can help; especially the ones offered by TWOIOT, one of the pitchers in the InnoVEX Saloon on corporate innovation. TWOIOT’s solution uses both IoT and blockchain to ensure the trash is collected as soon as the garbage bins are full, lowering both costs and resources for waste management. This is especially necessary for food waste management as food wastes can be the breeding grounds for disease causing microbes and pests. The collected waste can be turned into fertilizer for growing more food and as fuel; either as solid, liquid, or gas. While there might be no sense of urgency for non-organic trash, they will still need to be collected and if possible recycled or repurposed and reentered into the supply chain; either as raw material or intermediate goods.

Value Added All the Way

The concept of circular economy is quite similar to water cycle in the sense that all resources are to be reused effectively almost endlessly. However, it also faces the current issue of imbalance in the sense that some people might experience an overabundance of resources while others face a severe shortage.

What innovations, innovators, and inventors need do is to improve the distribution and the supply chain; to ensure that as few people as possible face shortages. Of course, while sheer philanthropy is a noble cause; there is another more appealing reason for delving into circular economy and actually devoting time, energy, and resources for circular economy. The reason of course, is money. The business of waste management alone is expected to grow from USD 285 to USD 435 Billion by 2023. Using recycled materials can also reduce company expenditure; both in operation and material cost. Perhaps in the future, most the produced goods will be made from 100% recycled material. If this trend will continue, it will be wise to join the movement and lead the pack.

See More Green Tech in InnoVEX 2019

Green tech is increasingly becoming a popular industry and also one of the main topics of InnoVEX 2019. Relating to this growing trend, InnoVEX will have a dedicated theme pavilion on green tech & its applications. Startups interested in joining can register here.

In addition, InnoVEX will host a saloon networking event on December 19 focusing on green energy. Register here to join the saloon.