The Ripple Effect

The problems we face may be vast, but individual efforts add up.

We live in a moment defined by big issues: global warming, terrorism, shortages of fresh water, and economic free fall, to name a few. Problems of such scope demand equally big commitments. Nations join to negotiate terms for carbon reduction and to establish international intelligence networks. Scientists search for ways to wrest more potable water from our limited supply, and governments step in to prop up financial institutions. Under the circumstances, it’s easy to forget that individual actions have a cumulative effect.

When enough people choose to ride a bike rather than drive a car on short trips, for example, the result is a healthier population and better urban air quality. Making it easier for arthritis sufferers to administer their own treatments improves their long-term prognosis and lightens the load on an already overburdened health-care system. A single design does, therefore, make a difference, and the innovative products on these pages are just the kinds of small gestures that could have big impacts. —Kristi Cameron

Cimzia Syringe
A better-designed syringe means improved self-treatment for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.

Trio Bike
Having a single model suited to more than one errand makes the bike appealing for short-distance outings.

Solar Ivy
A Brooklyn-based architect takes an aesthetic approach to harvesting solar energy.

Pebble Bay Mattress
Overhauling the heart of the crib gives babies a healthier place to sleep.

Recent Programs