Now in its ninth year, the Buckminster Fuller Institute announced the Semifinalists for the 2016 Fuller Challenge—19 projects that are using design for worldchanging social good. The Fuller Challenge takes inspiration from architect and designer Bucky, honoring organizations that employ a whole systems approach to solving some of the most challenging of issues—human trafficking, climate change and damage caused by natural disasters. While the semifinalists represent various categories of the competition ranging from Human Health to Materials in the Circular Economy, they all have two things in common—they want to change the world through systems design, and their proposals are offering innovative new approaches to established problems. Below we highlight three of our favorite proposals:
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Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE)
Women in developing countries face many problems, but affording menstrual supplies should not be one of them. Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) has designed a strategy to locally produce eco-friendly pads made from discarded banana fiber. The term eco-friendly is no joke to SHE, as their manufacturing process includes no chemicals and very little water. SHE's pads are sustainable and notably less expensive than conventional pads, providing a healthier and more affordable option to women. Through this project, SHE also works to empower women through providing local employment and stressing the importance of girls' education. Talk about a triple threat.
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Urban Death Project
Urban Death Project may have found a natural solution to the current issue of overpopulated cemeteries. Today's funeral industry not only disposes of bodies in toxic ways (think about how many materials are wasted in the burial process, including hardwood and concrete), but many people consider the concept of the traditional burial creepy. UDP has designed a system where bodies naturally decompose and eventually turn into soil. They've already planned the first full-scale human composting facility in Seattle, Washington. With a clever marketing plan to match their rather dark idea, all UDP has left to do is keep challenging the phrase, "you only live once."
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PITCHAfrica's Waterbank Schools
PITCHAfrica's Waterbank Schools is revolutionizing water access in Kenya. They've created an agenda to include communities in building rainwater-harvesting structures that serve students, faculty, and surrounding areas with clean, accessible water. With built-in filtration systems and strategic placement, PITCHAfrica's Waterbank Schools could be the next best way to bring clean water and jobs to developing countries. PITCHAfrica's plan to include communities in eliminating scarcity is inspiring, and it would provide many educational opportunities in affected areas.
Learn more about the Fuller Challenge at BFI.org and congratulations to all of this year's semifinalists.