Sustainability Thrives on Creativity


Image by shyb via Flickr

The first time I flew to Australia, I remember dreading the layover and wishing we could fly non-stop from Boston.  As I peered out the plane window and saw the brilliant sunshine, I couldn’t fathom how decades later a solar plane would make its first international flight. Just the other day the solar-powered  Solar Impulse completed a flight from Switzerland to Brussels. The plane generated energy from the sun and stored the power in order to charge lithium batteries for night flight. No fuel and no pollution. Creativity at its finest.

As I thought about the solar-powered plane, I recalled Bob Eberle’s SCAMPER technique and wondered what other sustainability challenges we might be able to address by thinking creatively. Here’s an introduction to SCAMPER:

S = substitute

C = combine

A = adapt

M = modify

P = put to another use

E = eliminate

R = rearrange

By applying the SCAMPER technique to an airplane, here are some of my thoughts on how we can open new possibilities for sustainability:

Substitute = use recycled materials to build and outfit the plane

Combine = create an inflight service to identify popular destinations and offer ride-shares from the airport

Adapt = harvest rain while in flight and deliver to areas on the flight path where water is needed

Modify = change the shape of the plane to make it more aerodynamic

Put to another use = recycle the food containers and turn them into frequent flyer cards

Eliminate = get rid of toxic cleaning materials

Rearrange = donate the excess scrap metal from building planes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *