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Top 5 innovations for social good in 2019

The word 'innovation' may have become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, but when it comes to making the world a better place, we think it can't be used enough! From vacuums that clean the oceans to more accessible and environmentally friendly menstrual hygiene products, here are some of our favourite innovations of 2019.

1. Water filtering straws

Access to clean water that is close to home is one of the biggest issues people around the world face in terms of health and well-being. So what if there were a straw that filtered water? You get were we're going with this. LifeStraw filter removes 99.9% of bacteria and 96.2% of viruses. It was first created for people in emergency conditions and those living in developing countries without enough fresh clean water, and now it's become popular for travellers as well.

2. A Vacuum for the oceans

We all know that our oceans are vastly polluted with plastics and other man-made materials, damaging and killing marine life. That's where the 4Ocean Mobile Skimmer comes it. It's essentially a vacuum cleaner for oceans that has large arms to collect garbage and requires just a few people to run it.

3. Smart farms

There are millions of people around the globe who don't have access to food, and with the changing climate, those numbers ill only increase. Enter the smart farm. The founders of AeroFarms say it uses a technique for indoor farming that uses 95% less water than field farming. Even more innovative is that rather than grow in dirt, these crops grow in a reusable cloth made from recycled water bottles and are crops are watered with a gentle mist to use the least amount of water possible. According to co-owner Marc Oshima, AeroFarms has already produced crops like kale and arugula at scale, and has sold them to large grocery store chains and even an airline.

“Innovation is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.”

Albert Szent-Györgyi

Nobel prize winning scientist

4. Eco-friendly pads

Feminine hygiene products are often wasteful and sustainable alternatives can be expensive, not to mention many women and girls in developing countries don't have easy access to them. The founders of Saathi pads in India created pads made from banana fibers that are 100% biodegradable and also helps local farmers and employs underprivileged women to produce the pads. Saathi pads are “a hygienic, effective alternative to improve the lives of women without creating any negative environmental impact,” according to Kristin Kagetsu, one of the company’s co-founders, and estimates that more than 6,000 women in India now use Saathi pads.

5. Electricity to go

Easy access to reliable electricity is something many of us in North America may take for granted. While power is widely available, in many parts of the world, it's sporadic. While attending a complicated birth in Nigeria, American obstetrician-­gynecologist Dr. Laura Stachel experienced firsthand how power outages can mean life or death in certain parts of the world. So Dr. Stachel decided an easy-to-use, portable source of power was the solution, one that could run lights for a delivery room along with a fetal heart monitor. This became the first Solar Suitcase. Dr. Stachel’s organization has now shipped nearly 4,000 units to 27 developing countries.

These are just some of the amazing innovations that came out in 2019 that worked for the good of humanity. We can't wait to see what 2020 brings!