7 World-Saving Inventions From Art School Kids

The concepts and prototypes include a hand-powered washing machine, a landmine-removal kit, and more

Each year, graduates from London’s Royal College of Art–the U.K.’s preeminent art school–show off projects at the SustainRCA Show. The idea is to give the spotlight to innovative concepts and prototypes that will help us as we hurtle toward a warmer, more crowded, energy-hungry world. Pretty much anything pre-apocalypse (or maybe even post-apocalypse!) is fair game. You can read more about the show here, and we’ve put together seven awesome projects for your perusal, including a hand-powered washing machine, a landmine-removal kit, and more.

Landmine Removal Tools

For “Blastproof,” a project sponsored by the James Dyson Foundation, Chris Natt is creating blast-proof tools that make the removal of landmines a less dangerous process. (Yes, standard operating procedure is still to have people very carefully blow up the mines.) A shovel-like tool with a shield attached, for instance, could decrease the rate of injuries for de-miners. Along with that, Natt is creating a practice toolkit, with fake mines that can be used for removal training.

Glass Tiles

Floor tiles made from crushed glass don’t exactly sound appealing, but that’s the idea behind Diana Simpson Hernandez’s Glass Lab. Glass waste, like bottles, are picked up through participating agencies. After that, the glass is crushed and a binding agent added to create strong materials in various shapes.

DIY Makeup

The Alchemist’s Dressing Table, created by Lauren Davies, is a way to make homemade cosmetics: distill flower-water for perfume, or make DIY mascaras and creams.

Sun Chasers

Lucy Norman created the Sun Sill, essentially an adjustable mirror for reflecting sunlight where it’s needed (and thus letting people shut off their lights). Simple but effective, and a related app lets users set and track their locations, with the Sun Sill adjusting with the light accordingly. You can see a video of the process here.

A Kinetic Washing Machine

Idrees Rasouli designed Qaf with the millions of people who wash clothes by hand in Afghanistan in mind. Essentially, it’s a lawnmower/washing machine: push the clothes around for a spin cycle. It’s faster and less energy-intensive than washing clothes by hand.

Luffa Products

Luffa is a strong but light material, so why stop at bathing stuff? Mauricio Affonso’s “Luffa Lab” looks at alternative uses, like creating (I assume great-feeling) tile or even cheap but effective splints.

Waste Power

The Gu Bank is a concept for retrieving feces in rural India, where sewage systems often aren’t available, and using it as energy. Migrants can move the feces in a sanitary system and drop it off at plants, where it can be engineered for fuel.