It shouldn’t have taken a TV show to push plastic waste and broader sustainability issues up the public agenda towards the close of 2017. But the blistering admonishment issued by the redoubtable Sir David Attenborough in Blue Planet II has done just that. Bollywood actors are picking up rubbish on Indian beaches and the people of London are petitioning to end the use of plastic straws. This resurgence in mainstream attention to environmental concerns has caused many of us to look for ways to make conscious choices which will help us waste less plastic, food and energy. Beyond turning lights off and reusing plastic bags, what models can we adopt in order to make an impact? Besides renting our way towards a circular economy, we’re celebrating ten businesses which are well worth our attention.
OLIO is a free app (mobile and web app) that connects neighbours with each other and with local shops so surplus food and other items can be shared, not thrown away.
This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. For your convenience, OLIO can also be used for non-food household items too.
If you love food, hate waste, care about the environment or want to connect with your community, OLIO is for you.
Like OLIO, GoodGuide is another free app designed to tackle the environmental impact of the food industry. This app is designed to restore power to environmentally friendly consumers by allowing them to choose products that contain ingredients with fewer health concerns, thus giving manufacturers compelling incentives to make and sell better products.
The app is easy to use, all you need to do it scan the product’s barcode to receive all the information on the product and its environmental rating. It also has a comprehensive list of the highest rated products on the market.
Conscious Step was created to spread a message – that we as individuals have a power and a responsibility to make a difference. The company believes that global change happens when passionate people unite their individual efforts around a common cause. By bringing people together around the world’s biggest challenges and empowering them to take conscious steps in their day to day lives, they believe they can change the world.
Every pair of socks is partnered with a different nonprofit to help tackle the world’s biggest problems. Just one pair of socks has the power to plant twenty trees, or give three years of save water to someone.
According to recent research, the average person these days spends a whopping 90% of their time indoors where the air is on average 5 times more polluted than outside (presumably this is excluding anyone who commutes through central London). Molekule has created the world’s first air purifier that doesn’t just catch pollutants but eliminates them on a molecular level. This included anything from mould, to gaseous pollutants, to E. Coli leaving us office dwellers breathing much healthier air every day.
Adaptavate is an award-winning start-up that is totally re-thinking the material flows associated with the construction industry. We are creating and developing new products and value chains to commercialise mainstream bio-materials that are renewable and compostable, as well as being higher performing in use. They are installed in exactly the same way as conventional materials. Our game-changing product is a direct alternative to plasterboard, called Breathaboard. We also have an internal plaster product currently on the market. Our products lead to healthier, energy efficient homes and buildings whilst reducing our long-term ecological footprint with regard to resources and waste.
6. 31 Bits
31 Bits uses fashion and design to drive positive change in the world by providing artisans with dignified job opportunities and inspiring customers to live meaningful lives. All of their products are thoughtfully designed and ethically made. The company set out with the aim of not becoming ‘just another charity selling key chains and t-shirts’ but creating genuinely fashionable, ethically sourced clothing and jewellery. They are giving consumers a choice to make ethical shopping decisions and we salute them!
Anyone who has ever worked in a cafe will appreciate the sheer quantity of spent coffee grounds that go in the bin. Bio-Bean is the genius business that has harnessed this ‘waste’ product and turned it into advanced biofuels and biochemicals. As featured previously on this blog, their product can save businesses money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and even replace fossil fuels. And it’s not restricted to business-use: they have domestic products as well. Next winter we could all be heating our homes with ‘coffee logs’. We hope it smells as good as it sounds!
8. Grow Bristol
Currently, 60% of UK food is imported, with the average lettuce travelling 1800 miles to our plates. Grow Bristol is an innovative start-up that has transformed old shipping containers into agricultural sites, using aquaponics to produce ultra-local leafy greens which are transported from the crate to restaurants by bike. This urban centre for agriculture could significantly reduce the air miles attached to the fruit and veg industries (especially the salad sector) and it uses 80% less water than the usual farming techniques – it’s a win-win!
Possibly the most ambitious environmental food company out there. Impossible Foods, have a team of scientists and food experts who are working to create environmentally friendly alternatives to some of the most harmful foods. My favourite of these is the impossible burger – the vegan burger that tastes exactly like meat. Now I know what your thinking, we have had that deluded veggie friend who claims that Quorn sausages are just the same – they are not.
However, this burger genuinely is groundbreaking not only does it look exactly like a real one (it even changes from red to brown when it is cooked). It tastes like it too, and this is all due to the discovery of an ingredient called heme – the vegetarian substance that ‘makes meat smell, sizzle, bleed, and taste gloriously meaty’.
10. My Green World
My Green World is a Melbourne-based social enterprise dedicated to addressing global wildlife and environmental challenges through innovative, youth-focused education. Since 2013, My Green World has been pioneering inclusive digital education programs that further children’s engagement with global conservation efforts while ensuring the preservation of species and environments.
Have we missed out some of your favourite sustainable businesses? Let us know in the comments below!