Tech vs. Trees: 3D-printed wooden beehives aim to support bee populations, UK studio reimagines COVID-19 rapid test as paper-based and biodegradable, student spending on print textbooks down as much as 69% in last decade

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LOS ANGELES , May 31, 2022 () –

A roundup of recent trends pitting technology against the printed word:

Trees: 3D-printed wooden beehives aim to support bee populations

The dwindling of bee populations has become a concern in recent years, considering one-third of the world’s food comes from honey bee pollination. Scottish nonprofit The Lacrima Foundation is working on a solution that involves 3D-printing wooden beehives to slow the decline of bee populations and build up their resilience, reported May 11. The foundation’s hive is made from a special wood composite that’s biodegradable and can be installed high up in tree trunks, enabling honey bees to live in an ecosystem that’s similar to their natural conditions. Lacrima is partnering with beekeepers in Europe and the US, and is receiving support from the United Nations and the Scottish government to produce more 3D-printed beehives. 


Trees: UK studio reimagines COVID-19 rapid test as paper-based and biodegradable

While public health can benefit from more rapid at-home COVID-19 tests, the plastic waste generated from the tests has concerned one designer. “We can’t save people’s lives and simultaneously affect them later [on] with global warming,” said Jo Barnard, founder of London-based industrial design studio Morrama. The studio aims to address the waste issue with a biodegradable rapid test called Eco-Flo made of recyclable paper pulp. Though it is currently a concept, Eco-Flo would use new technology that allows paper to be molded without being wetted. The process is comparable in cost to producing PET plastic, which is currently used to make rapid tests. The test uses saliva as a test sample, which is pressed into an absorbent pad, Fast Company reported May 13. Results can be produced in about 15 minutes, indicated by a bright red color. A prototype hasn’t been created yet, but Barnard hopes the idea will help manufacturers rethink future designs of diagnostic tests. 


Trees: Student spending on print textbooks down as much as 69% in last decade

With more US colleges and universities taking steps to make textbook costs more affordable, student spending on course materials have declined, according to a Student Monitor survey. Between the 2011-2012 and 2021-2022 school years, spending fell 63% for new print textbooks and 69% for used print textbooks. Meanwhile, rented print textbooks increased 34% and digital textbooks rose 156%, though overall spending on course materials fell 44% between that 10-year period, according to the survey. Factors that led to the decline include more affordable course materials and students taking advantage of these options, according to Eric Weil, managing partner of Student Monitor, Good E-Reader reported May 19. For the 2021-2022 school year, students spent $101 on average on new print textbooks, $69 on used print textbooks, $47 on rented print textbooks and $97 on e-textbooks, according to the report.

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