Need to Know
09 : 08 : 18

Allbirds brings sustainability to flip flops, supports women taking the pill, and blockchain that monitors baby food.

Allbirds invests in sustainable soles

AllBirds Sweetfoam flip flops, US
AllBirds Sweetfoam flip flops, US
AllBirds Sweetfoam flip flops, US

US – Eco-conscious footwear brand Allbirds is championing sustainability with its latest product – flip flops made from sugar cane.

Allbirds has spent more than two years developing Sweetfoam, a new sole material that is carbon-negative and derived from renewable sugar cane. ‘Sugar cane pulls carbon out of the environment,’ says Jad Finck, vice-president of sustainability and innovation at Allbirds. ‘It breathes it in, converts it into chemical energy in the form of sugar, and then we convert it into this foam. So while other soles are adding to the carbon footprint, this one is carbon-negative.’

In response to concerns about the environmental impact of polyurethane, the brand hopes to disrupt the sandals market with Sweetfoam, replacing the traditional rubber soles of flip flops with this sustainable alternative. For more on pioneering future materials in fashion, explore the dedicated listicle here. addresses the side-effects of birth control

Top Up Tonic by Top Up Tonic by
Top Up Tonic by Top Up Tonic by

US – Women’s health start-up has launched its first product, a supplement designed to replenish the essential nutrients depleted by taking the contraceptive pill.

Its Top Up Tonic is a 30-day supply of capsules formulated with a variety of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals including magnesium, zinc and vitamins B, C and E. With the aim of counteracting nutrient deficiency in women, reportedly a symptom of taking the pill, the supplements are designed to tackle fatigue, mood swings, bloating and headaches.

‘We were looking for opportunities and products that don’t exist that would enhance the quality of life for female Millennials,’ says Julie McClure, co-founder of ‘We realised that we went through a lot of changes in our 20s and 30s from the birth control pill. I had migraines and anxiety from it, [so] we wanted to create a solution that would be easy for women.’

By recognising the impact of hormone variation in women’s health, is not only building the conversation around women’s healthcare needs, but highlighting the often unaddressed physical symptoms related to taking oral contraceptives.

Baby food ingredients traced by blockchain

Global – Nestlé is exploring the use of blockchain technology to trace the origins of fruit and vegetables that go into its various baby food products.

In a recent initiative it trialled Food Trust, an IBM blockchain system that stores data relating to harvests, processing, packaging and shipping in the food supply chain. With the ability to perform trace-back tests within just 2.2 seconds, the trial proved both successful and effective for tracking ingredients in baby food containing sweet potato, apple and pumpkin.

With parents taking more interest in the quality of the meals and snacks they feed their children, Nestlé believes the system will not only allow for greater transparency but can also speed up product recalls if necessary, as emphasised by the slow response rate to a recent outbreak of E. coli found in Romaine lettuce, which affected hundreds of Americans and caused several fatalities.

Thistle Baby, US

Heron Preston launches NASA clothing range in space

Above The Clouds, by Heron Preston & David Laven

US – After initially putting forward the idea in 2013, streetwear designer Heron Preston has introduced a NASA-inspired clothing collection, launching the range 32 miles above earth.

The 31-piece streetwear collection, comprising jackets, t-shirts, socks and hats, takes visual cues from NASA’s 60-year history. The clothing incorporates various motifs from the space agency’s history, including its former worm logo, used from 1975 to 1992.

To build hype around the collection, Preston launched its hero look on the edge of space using high-altitude weather balloons. He has also worked with director David Laven on a film that takes an intimate look at the creation of the new range.

With the launch of the world’s first commercial space station due in 2020, a new wave of brands and creatives are looking beyond our planet for inspiration. ‘Working with NASA, the real agency that has sent people to space, to the moon, that explores planets, this is as real as it can get. That is what I’m using my platform for, to tell other stories that you don’t really hear in fashion,’ Heron Preston told Dezeen.

Stat: Americans open to eating lab-grown meat

A new study by animal advocacy research organisation Faunalytics has found that US consumers are increasingly receptive to ‘clean meat’ – that which is grown in a laboratory – with 53% willing to eat it as a replacement for conventional farmed meat, and 46% keen to buy it regularly.

While a sizeable majority of respondents were willing to try the alternative meat after receiving a brief definition, initially many had not heard of it, which highlights the question of whether fake meat has a marketing problem.

Earlier in 2018, a number of organisations attempted to change the way brands market meat alternatives. France has prohibited the use of meat terminology such as ‘burgers’ and ‘steaks’ when referencing plant-based food, while the US Cattlemen’s Association petitioned the US Department of Agriculture to rule that the terms ‘meat’ and ‘beef’ could not be applied to foodstuffs that had not been ‘slaughtered in the traditional manner’.

Thought-starter: How can we rethink packaging design for everyone?

By differentiating between consumers with different mobility needs, retailers are reinforcing separation, not inclusivity. This needs to change – fast.

When it comes to packaging, the zeitgeist is very much around sustainability. Reducing plastic waste is undeniably the critical environmental issue, but there is another equally pertinent but much less discussed problem. With 15% of the world’s population living with a serious disability (Source: World Health Organization), simply opening a product can be a real challenge.

Microsoft recently released an unpacking GIF of its new Xbox Adaptive Controller on Twitter. As well as modifying the controller itself, Microsoft has thought holistically about how it could use levers and pulleys to ensure that those with limited ability are able to open it with ease. ‘We treat packaging as part of the product,’ says Kevin Marshall, creative director of design and global packaging at Microsoft. ‘Packaging really has the potential to validate and shape consumer experiences.’

Microsoft’s approach exemplifies the ethos that designing for disability does not mean compromising on design integrity. The design team spent a year working with 100 members of the gaming community, all with various degrees of mobility, to ensure that the result was not something ‘othered’ but instead a product that would provide a better unpacking experience for all.

Read the full opinion here.

Light Bell by Ian Bok
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