Thannal Natural Homes

Rising temperatures, melting ice caps and greenhouse gas emissions. These are the kinds of things that conversations about the climate tend to focus on. But although they tell us a lot about the ecological crisis we are facing — they aren’t the cause of the problem. They are symptoms of a broken system: one that is based on the linear economy and that treats natural resources as something we can take, use briefly and then throw away. 

What if design could help people build a better future with less? Or provide opportunities for them to opt out of consumption as a way of life? These are some of the key questions behind the Redesign Everything Challenge, our new open call for creative climate solutions. Here, we take a closer look at 5 inspiring initiatives that are using design as a tool for resistance, working to not only reduce how much we consume but also refuse harmful trends and practices.


Thannal Natural Homes | Spaces | India

In the past, homes in India were designed to adapt to the local climate, using materials that effectively managed heat, cold, and rain.  This not only made buildings more resilient but also reduced the the need for excessive energy use and air conditioning. However, in recent times, many urban consumers are gravitating towards more modern but unsustainable building materials like cement and steel. 

Thannal Natural Homes is an initiative that aims to revive age-old traditions of building and living. Founded by architects Biju and Sindhu Bhaskar, Thannal promotes Indigenous techniques in construction through art and design projects that champion naturally cooling and locally available materials such as lime, clay and cow dung, alongside natural polymers from plants and animals. They also offer educational workshops and training courses to share their knowledge and practices. 

Thannal Natural Homes

A natural home built by Thannal. Photo: Thannal.


Mujō | Materials | Germany

Did you know that the packaging industry consumes up to 40% of all plastic production? Working to provide an alternative to this is mujō: a Berlin-based innovation company that develops packaging solutions made from seaweed. Specifically, their materials are derived from kelp: a type of fast-growing seaweed that doesn’t require any additional water or land to cultivate. Besides being a renewable resource, kelp actually supports ecosystems by purifying ocean water and producing oxygen. Additionally, mujō also works to create circular ecosystems with all the stakeholders involved in their products, to help producers, consumers and decomposers manage their supply chains. In doing so, mujō’s mission is to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics, which are primarily made from harmful petrochemicals.

Mujō makes biodegradable packaging for all kinds of consumer products, including tampons and sanitary pads. Photo: mujō.


Mukuru Clean Stoves | Products | Kenya 

In Africa, over 1 million deaths are attributed to household air pollution every year. Part of the problem lies in the widespread burning of charcoal and other solid fuels in open fires and inefficient stoves. The risk is especially great for women and children, and Mukuru Clean Stoves (MCS) is a Kenyan social enterprise on a mission to provide families with a viable alternative. They produce affordable and efficient ethanol cookstoves made from recycled materials and partner with women-led local businesses to distribute the last mile.  Since 2017, MCS has sold over 400,000 clean cookstoves in Kenya, enabling families to make savings of over $50 million in fuel costs while avoiding over 800,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Cleaner ethanol stoves for cooking. Photo: Mukuru Clean Stoves.


Fazenda Cubo | Systems & Services | Brazil

Fazenda Cubo is an initiative that is transforming urban agriculture in São Paulo and “bringing planting closer to eating” by allowing consumers to buy vegetables directly from the producer. This hyper-local approach eliminates the need for transportation by trucks while significantly reducing  CO2 emissions. In fact, many of their practices are geared towards efficient resource management and the reduction of waste. For example, the vertical farm they run occupies very little space, and the closed irrigation circuit they use consumes 90% less water than conventional agriculture. 

By providing easy access to fresh, healthy and plant-based meals, Fazenda Cubo shows the potential of small-scale urban farming, encouraging others to adopt similar practices and serving as a replicable model for other cities in Brazil.

Fazenda Cubo urban farm

Urban farming in São Paulo. Photo: Fazenda Cubo.


Clean Creatives | Communications | UK

Over the last 20 years, major oil companies like Exxon, Shell and BP have spent billions of dollars on advertising, often in ways that are misleading or harmful to climate action. But today, a growing movement is pushing to make fossil fuel ads a thing of the past. 

One of the key players in this conversation is Clean Creatives, a global collective calling for more accountability and transparency in the advertising industry. Most of their activities are focused on giving ad agencies and professionals the skills and tools they need to cut ties with the world’s biggest polluters. They do this through various mobilisation efforts, workshops, media campaigns, pledges and publications, including an ‘F-List’ report of 200 top ad agencies still working for Big Oil in 2022.

Clean Creatives campaign at Cannes Lions 2023. Photo: Jake Randall for Clean Creatives.

Top image: Natural building by Thannal.