5 big Ted talks for people who care about the environment

Ted Talk

Since 2007, TED.com has shared some of the most influential presentations from across the globe on sustainability, the environment, and a greener future. 

Today, there are more than 1500 TED talks online, many of which focus on the environment (including those from eco-warrior heavyweight Al Gore) and have been viewed by millions of people. 

Below are five of the most popular eco-talks that have appeared on TED.com to date.

Joe Smith: How to use a paper towel

Often it’s the big ideas that capture the attention of TED audiences. But as Joe Smith demonstrates in his tutorial, sometimes the smallest changes have potential for the greatest impact.

Smith, who according to his TED bio is a “powerful advocate for proper paper towel use,” demonstrates how to properly dry your hands, which could lead to a reduction in the 571 millions pounds of paper towel used by Americans every year. His small idea might be catching on—more than 2 million people have viewed his talk. 

Alex Steffen: The route to a sustainable future

“If everybody on the planet lived the way we did, we’d need between five and 10 planets to make it,” Alex Steffen, founder of worldchanging.com, points out at the beginning of his presentation.  

A primer on sustainability and the strains that we’re currently placing on the planet, Steffen covers some of the solutions, including changes to transit, green buildings, and shared economies—as well as what this might look like in the developing world.  

Mitchell Joachim: Don’t build your home, grow it!

Imagine a home that fits naturally into its environment, reduces carbon, is made of eco-friendly materials, and doesn’t harm a single living creature. Sound great? Well, what if that home was made from meat? 

In this presentation, architect Mitchell Joachim presents his idea for sustainable housing developments and the potential for architecture and biology to become symbiotic forces for sustainability. 

Marcel Dicke: Why not eat insects?

 With a growing world population comes an increased demand for meat production, which creates a strain on both the environment and human health.

So ready your gag reflex; in this 16-minute talk, ecological entomologist Marcel Dicke presents his solution, though it’s not for the squeamish—he suggests we start eating insects, which are high in nutrition and eco-friendly. 

Charles Moore: Seas of plastic

Think that you’re doing your part by cutting apart plastic six-pack rings? This talk will make you think twice about what it means to prevent harm to marine birds and wildlife.

In his “trash talk,” Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, discusses the problem with plastic recycling and the mass consumption of products packaged in plastic. At the root of his argument is compelling pictures of animals that have been affected by the islands of plastic floating in the ocean.

Fox print