When nature thrives, so do we. Earth Day is April 22nd, while we have a lot of work to do, I’d like to celebrate some of the amazing innovations that are in the works now to help our world become more sustainable.
Our world is full of people who have the audacity to believe we can do the impossible and then they do it. Like putting a man on the moon or breaking the sound barrier. We’re smart, creative, driven, innovators, and leaders and we don’t quit. We take problems and work them over and over again until we come up with solutions. Here are 10 companies that have come up with cool inventions. Some are still in the idea stage and others are in use today. When we all work together, we are a force to be reckoned with.
1. Seaweed Pouches, called Ooho, an edible and biodegradable alternative for plastic by Skipping Rocks Lab. One example of how these pouches are used, they were filled with sports drinks and given to marathon runners to reduce the use of hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles.
The seaweed capsules can be bitten to release the liquid inside and eventually entirely consumed, or if the runner prefers not to eat the seaweed film it can be discarded where it will break down quickly.
It is estimated that we buy one million plastic bottles per minute. Of these plastic bottles, 91 percent will not be recycled. Most will make their way to landfills and the ocean and a smaller proportion will be incinerated with other trash.
Think of the hundreds of thousands of bottles that did not get thrown away from this one race. Multiply that by all the sporting events, music festivals, and celebrations, and this could be a game-changer.
2. Solar Roadways and Sidewalks. How cool is this? Roads that offer clean, renewable energy sources capable of powering electric cars, as well as the homes and businesses that line their paths. Solar Roadways has developed this system, built from tempered glass, with the strength to hold a fleet of brimming Scoop Trucks, panels house LED lights for road lines and signage. Plus they’re equipped with microprocessors to communicate and heating elements that melt snow.
3. Loop is working on zero-waste packaging of your everyday essentials. They deliver your products in reusable packaging and when you’re done you put the containers back in the Loop tote and schedule a free pick-up from your home. The containers are then picked up by a delivery service, cleaned and refilled, and shipped out to consumers again.
Some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies (Proctor & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo, Petcare, etc) are partnering to help limit future waste. This is a good alternative to recycling, which really isn’t working well.
Imagine all the cardboard, ice packs, bubble wrap, and plastic that you won’t be throwing away!
4. Greensburg, Kansas. Nope, not a company, but an entire town that went green and is now showing other towns and cities how to do it. After a category 5 tornado, the highest possible with winds at more than 200 mph, wiped out the entire town, they made the decision to build back green.
“A decade later, Greensburg draws 100 percent of its electricity from a wind farm, making it one of a handful of cities in the United States to be powered solely by renewable energy. It now has an energy-efficient school, a medical center, city hall, library and commons, museum, and other buildings that save more than $200,000 a year in fuel and electricity costs, according to one federal estimate. The city saves thousands of gallons of water with low-flow toilets and drought-resistance landscaping and, in the evening, its streets glow from LED lighting.” – Annie Gowen
5. Storm Water Systems – an incredibly simple filtration system solution, a net. Simple yet highly effective. The commercial-grade, reusable Storm X nets are engineered to capture gross pollutants and handle powerful stormwater runoff at most urban hot spots. They are removing tons of floating and non-floating litter to preserve and ensure a future of clean water and capture litter before it reaches our oceans.
6. Plant for the Planet is a non-profit that wants to plant up to a trillion trees. Trees are one of the most powerful tools against the climate crisis. By restoring forests, we buy valuable time, which we can use to reduce our CO2 emissions. But that’s not all. Restoring forests achieves much more than just tackling the climate crisis. By ensuring that these forests recover, helps us avoid the loss of plant and animal species who call these forests home, especially when forests house 50% of all life on the planet. Regenerating forests can also improve local water quality and reduce erosion.
7. Food Rescue US uses an app to connect stores and restaurants that have leftover foods with soup kitchens, pantries, and shelters that need their excess food. Their app also organizes volunteers who pick up and deliver the food.
It’s estimated that 40 percent of all food in America is wasted. Much of it ends up in landfills, where it emits dangerous-to-the-planet methane gas. All the while, more than 13 million Americans experienced food insecurity at some point in 2019 and that number rose to over 42 million during Covid-19 this past year. Food Rescue US is currently in 20 states and hopes to be in every state in the near future, connecting food that would be wasted to people in need. Their motto is “fill plates not landfills”.
8. Magical Mushroom Company harnesses the natural flexibility and strength of mycelium, the material structure of mushrooms, to grow protective packaging at any scale by combining it with agricultural waste like hemp, cork, and sawdust.
They believe many of the challenges facing mankind can be solved by looking to nature for the answers. So they are using mycelium technology, to help reduce the damage done by plastics like polystyrene which is a petroleum product that is incredibly polluting and very dangerous for wildlife. Their packaging offers a safe, sustainable, and totally home-compostable alternative. They are solving the plastic problem with the magic of mushrooms.
9. Green Circle Salons is a movement to change the beauty industry which sends 877 pounds of waste to landfills every single minute. Leftover hair color, foils, color tubes, aerosol cans, paper, and plastics, not to mention the toxic chemicals that get poured down the drain.
When a salon is certified as a Green Circle Salon, it means up to 95% of its waste is recycled, recovered, or repurposed. Hair clippings are sent to partner facilities to be composted with other organic waste, turned into bio-composite plastic, or used in research for new environmental technology. Foils, color tubes, and aerosol containers are melted down into aluminum sheets or bars and used to make car parts and new bicycles. Now during the pandemic, salons are also collecting personal protective equipment, such as gloves, which are turned into clean renewable energy when incinerated, and the ashes can be used to make filler in asphalt and other construction materials.
10. Just One aims to challenge people to make simple changes in their everyday lives to save the planet. Through these millions of small, meaningful actions we can really make a difference.
Founder, Stacy Hennessey said, “The environmental problems that plague the planet didn’t come about because a small group of people polluted, it was all of us doing small acts every day that got us where we are,” so she’s suggesting we do the opposite, starting today. That could mean picking up a piece of trash, bringing a refillable water bottle to work, or turning off the lights when you leave the house. As we know, small changes, can have a ripple effect and make a big impact.
Our love of nature, our mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, and forests, and our beautiful blue skies, and star-lit nights, remind us every day of what we have to protect. The power lies in every one of us to help save our planet.
“May the World Be More Beautiful Because You Have Lived in It.” – unknown
Turn off your computers and put down your phones. Get out in nature and enjoy the beauty all around you. Try plogging or take the Just One challenge and watch your small changes ripple out in our world. Happy Earth Day everyone!
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