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Cleaning Up: 7 Tech Ideas That Could Change the World One Day

The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030 says, "Without new policies, we risk irreversibly damaging the environment." This is a frightening statement, but it's a relief to know that the experts also point out that making a change is practical and affordable.

To reduce environmental impact, many companies have shifted to greener technologies to help tackle the issue and provide a clean environment for the future. Check out these seven technologies that will help us clean up the environment.

1. Kinetic Charger

With new technologies like myPower, runners can channel their energy into a rechargeable battery that they can later use for charging their phone or other mobile device. Reportedly, running for 45 minutes per day can give phones up to eight extra hours of battery life, and running with the device for a year will offset the carbon footprint of manufacturing it and the phone you are charging. When this type of technology hits mainstream, it will help us reduce the amount of energy we waste.

2. Garbage-Powered Street Lamps

Designed by Haneum Lee, the garbage-powered street lamps would feature a garbage bin at the base specifically for food waste, and then it would use the methane produced from the food garbage to light the street lamps. The city could then use the compost in the surrounding area. If cities begin using this type of technology, they could greatly decrease their energy consumption and reduce the amount of waste they're sending to landfills.

3. Cleaner Vehicles

More car manufactures are moving toward vehicles with better fuel efficiency. For instance, the Mercedes-Benz luxury SUV options provide the best fuel economy in their class, which means that even with the same amount of cars on the road, humans will reduce their ecological impact by driving more efficient cars like this.

The great news is that the average fuel efficiency is on the rise. In 2012, vehicles hit a record high of 23.8 mpg average, and then in 2013, the average soared again, reaching a 24.8 mpg average. While these numbers clearly don't represent the cleanest cars on the road, they show that the impact cars have on the environment is decreasing due to higher fuel efficiency levels. What's more, electric cars are gaining traction, and many get around 100 mpg or higher.

4. Green Architecture

By building green structures, we will greatly reduce the amount of energy we use. The idea of a green building is that it uses the most practical resources available that won't harm the environment. For instance, a green building might utilize sunlight to light the building instead of wasting electricity. Designers may incorporate better insulation practices to cut down on heating and cooling costs and energy consumption. Architects could even add rooftop gardens to promote sustainability within urban areas.

5. Waste-Water Electricity Generator

Thanks to a team of engineers from Oregon State University, we could see our energy consumption drastically decrease in the future by using waste water to produce energy. This waste-water electricity generator can power the treatment plant as well as provide power to other surrounding areas via microbial fuel cells and reverse electrodialysis technologies.

6. Carbon Capture Technology

Instead of sending carbon into the air to pollute our food and water and increase ocean acidity, researchers have come up with a new idea of capturing the carbon and storing it deep underground. The carbon emissions from a plant like this are 90 percent less than those of a traditional plant. This concept, when used on a large-scale, could quickly prevent the effects of carbon predicted for the future.

7. Artificial Photosynthesis

Scientists have designed a means of converting sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy much the same way plants do. This technology would help clean up the air while providing a sustainable and renewable source of energy for the world's population. This idea is genius, but researchers are still looking at ways to scale up the project and make it feasible for the world's population.

With the risks our current lifestyles pose to our future generations, it's time to start changing and cleaning up the environment. Luckily, we're already headed down that road with these technologies.

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