How will pineapple leaves, algae and mushroom cement save the future of our cities?

One exhibit titled Soup for the Eco-soul, for example, showcased an edible bioplastic by Evoware. “Imagine a plastic that can be dissolved in water or eaten together with the food it wraps, thereby eliminating waste and pollution,” the exhibit posed. Taking place outside a Chinese medical hall, Soup for the Eco-soul showcased traditional herbal soup ingredients packed in this edible yet tasteless “plastic”. It’s a project which could truly revolutionise our future and help to tackle The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a mound of waste plastic three times the size of France.

Moving away from sustainable packing and onto fashion, an industry with a lot to answer for on the environmental front, was Pineapple Trading Store. The Chinese love all things that bring prosperity, hence their affection for the pineapple whose Chinese name sounds like a “summoning of fortune”: 旺来 (wang lai). At this installation, set up to look like a fruit stall in front of a food centre, visitors were able to learn about Piñatex, a textile up-cycled from pineapple leaves, traditionally thrown away as agricultural byproducts. A leather-like material, Pineapple Trading Store showcased an array of accessories made from this eco-leather alternative.

While many of the installations honed in on sustainability in relation to our environment, a huge focus was also placed on cultural sustainability and broadening the conversation in this area. It’s for this reason that the trail was set in the heart of the historic Chinatown district, incorporating an element of Chinese history in as many installations as possible.

All in all, it was an event that challenged the status quo, introducing breakthrough ideas that could have a legitimate impact. It took on mushrooms that are stronger than concrete, eating algae for dinner, turning sewage into ink and trash into furniture, and so much more, ushering in innovations which may very well change how we live in the future.

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