Need to Know
28 : 09 : 21

A project exploring tomato-powered electricity, Mos bank bolsters student financial aid and Indian employees crack down on toxic employers.

This self-sustaining server produces electricity from tomatoes

Warm Earth by Ilja Schamlé, Eindhoven
Warm Earth by Ilja Schamlé, Eindhoven
Warm Earth by Ilja Schamlé, Eindhoven

The Netherlands – Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Ilja Schamlé is exploring the potential of self-sustaining eco-systems with a tomato plant-powered energy server. Her project, Warm Earth, examines how technology could enter a symbiotic relationship with nature. In the self-contained server system renewable energy derived from tomato vines runs a cloud server, with heat generated by the computer providing optimal growing temperature for the plants.

While this project offers a promising insight into the future of sustainable energy, the world’s current internet usage is too high for such a system to work. ‘The pace of the internet is extreme compared to the pace of plants, how they grow and how the bacteria breaks down and releases electrons,’ says Schamlé. Combining these two systems accentuates the excessiveness of our online behaviour and its electricity use.

In the future, there will be an even greater need for systems that simultaneously cater for our digital habits while also preserving nature. Elsewhere, we previously spoke to designers Monika Seyfried and Cyrus Clarke about their research into data-storing plants.

Strategic opportunity

Our current energy usage is proving harmful and unsustainable. Technology companies, therefore, should embrace opportunities to accelerate such innovationsenabling researchers to seriously explore plant-powered electricity

Financial aid start-up Mos re-invents student banking

Mos Student Banking, US Mos Student Banking, US
Mos Student Banking, US Mos Student Banking, US

US – Expanding from its roots as a financial aid start-up, Mos is introducing a debit card aimed at students. As part of a partnership with Blue Ridge Bank, the Mos card offers zero overdraft or late fees, as well as requiring no minimum balance. Students who sign up for a debit card can also use the platform’s scholarship and grant matching tool to ensure they have access to as much financial support as possible.

By creating the card, Mos is approaching student financial aid in a holistic way – simultaneously allowing Gen Z to manage their money while providing support from trusted scholarship providers. The goal is not to just become a student bank. The goal is to be like a financial super-app, says Amira Yahyaoui, founder and CEO of Mos. ‘I understand the frustration of not being allowed in [to college] because you can’t afford it.’

Fintech disruptor Twig recently spoke to LS:N Global about how it wants to become the bank for Generation Z, and how the circular economy will transform young people’s perception of wealth.

Strategic opportunity

Fintech brands targeting Gen Z should consider their diverse lifestyle needs. Consider also partnering with accommodation platforms and educational services to provide support throughout the student journey

Global beauty giants unite on sustainability strategy

Global – The global beauty industry is coming together to create a unified sustainability scoring system for cosmetics products. Major companies in the sector, including Unilever, L’Oréal, LVMH and Henkel and Natura & Co are launching the initiative to accelerate the industry’s environmental efforts. It will be open to all cosmetics companies, regardless of their size or existing resources.

To ensure a long-term approach is taken, the initiative will also involve input from scientists, academics and NGOs. By doing this, the scoring system will allow beauty brands to create established environmental criteria for their products. Working alongside our peer companies, we’re aiming to provide people with easy-to-understand, transparent and comparable information, based on a robust scientific approach,’ says Sunny Jain, president of beauty and personal care at Unilever.

By making this system available to the wider industry, these companies are showcasing how working together to create Open-source Sustainability can bolster environmental change.

Lush Lens feature on the #LushLabs app, UK

Strategic opportunity

Alternative industries should take inspiration from this initiative in creating sustainability systems. Ensure environmental criteria systems are backed by environmental experts and science

Stat: Indian workers have high expectations of employers

Indian National Team Cricket Jersey's by Nike Indian National Team Cricket Jersey's by Nike

The impact of Covid-19 has prompted global employees to rethink their expectations of work. According to a study by Edelman, this is particularly apparent in the Global South.

The research reveals that a majority (88%) of workers in India now expect more of their employers than they did three years ago, with 81% in Brazil saying the same. Globally, six in 10 study respondents said they chose their employer based on beliefs, which included refusing to work at a company because of disagreement on social issues. This mindset is being driven by Chinese employees, with 87% expressing this belief, showing how the Post-growth attitudes we forecast in 2018 are manifesting in China.

As people continue move from choosing jobs based on income to jobs based on values, there is a growing need for employers to respond and create workplaces with a focus on equitable and inclusive practices.

Strategic opportunity

To attract new talent, companies must be willing to take a stance on societal issues – as well as empowering employees to advance in their careers. As a starting point, focus on staff wellbeing and flexible working

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