Our favourite sustainable startups of 2016
It’s never easy making sustainability a core business objective, particularly for a startup. In the past year we’ve come across some awesome young companies who just like Farmstand believe we need to be putting as much effort into being environmentally friendly as any other aspect of business. Here are some of our favourite examples.
Few things beat the joys of picking your dinner ingredients from plants you’ve grown yourself, but for many people — especially those living in cities — an outdoor allotment isn’t really an option. Rather than giving up and resigning themselves to supermarket produce, MIT students Jamie Byron and Gabe Blanchet used their fish tank as a basis for a DIY indoor garden.
The system is based on aquaponics, which uses plants and animals to create an ecosystem which allows for indoor gardening like never before and hopes to encourage more people to source their food locally and sustainably.
Brooklyn startup Edenworks also uses aquaponics, but on a whole new scale. The company leveraged the recent reduction in the cost of LED lighting to create indoor urban farms which can grow salad greens vertically, making a much more efficient use of the space. They produce GMO- and pesticide-free produce which are supplied to local businesses and are also stocked in Whole Foods for consumer purchase.
In a similar vein, GrowUp believes the key to sustainability is getting cities to become more self-sufficient. They use aquaponics and vertical growing systems to revive neglected city buildings and turn them into a thriving space for ethically produced food. This type of urban farming makes for lower carbon emissions and uses much less and land space than traditional agriculture, allowing city dwellers to eat sustainably.
Fast fashion is the enemy of leading a sustainable, low-carbon-footprint lifestyle. Making 1kg of fabric generates an average of 23kg of greenhouse gases and in the UK we’re throwing out our clothes ever more regularly as prices drop, availability increases and social media puts pressure on younger generations to have endless on-trend ensembles.
London-based fashion designer Tom Cridland wants to change this, and has created a new line of pieces so durable and timeless that users would be able to wear the item for three decades. In his Huffington Post column, Cridland wrote:
“I believe it is our responsibility to know where our clothes are made. The millions who slave away in places like China, Bangladesh and India, churning out goods for big fashion corporations, are often so badly underpaid that they are unable to afford basic living expenses […] And then there’s the impact on the environment. Continuing to manufacture clothes that are worn only a few times is a huge waste of natural resources. As consumers, if we choose to throw away our clothes after one season that has a big impact on our carbon and water footprints.”
Anbu Anbalagapandian started Orange Harp with the intention of using technology to help socially conscious consumers live a more sustainable lifestyle. The app works as a marketplace for small businesses, which only stocks products that are manufactured ethically and sustainably, creating a beautifully curated digital space which allows you to shop (almost) completely guiltlessly.
Farmdrop (no relation)
Cutting out the middle man is the basis of Farmdrop’s mission to bring fresh, local ingredients to consumers with just a 19-hour journey from the farmer to your doorstep. By avoiding the complex distribution networks that rule supermarket logistics, they can limit overheads, decrease carbon footprint, ensure the freshest produce possible and compete on price — all in an effort to end the pervasiveness of mass-produced food.
Whilst most of us know to be conscientious about turning off the light before leaving a room, we don’t usually stop to consider the ramifications of leaving radiators running when they’re unnecessary. In fact, we could substantially reduce carbon emissions by making sure we’re using only the necessary energy during the winter months.
Heat Genius provides an app which tells you exactly how hot each room in your house is and allows you to control heating remotely. It also predicts how long each room will take to warm up and remembers when you use each room, so that the bedrooms aren’t heating up all day but the kitchen is nice and toasty in the evenings when you get home from work. Genius.
Logistics is not a word which excites most of us, but Imagine Cargo is trying to change that. Currently working in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, they want to lower carbon emissions, one package delivery at a time.
According to their website an average of 12kg of CO2 are emitted transporting a 5kg express package from A to B, almost all of which can be eliminated by using their couriers which work on bicycles and trains as opposed to motorbikes, lorries and planes. Nick Blake, the British founder and CEO of Imagine Cargo, said:
“A lot of customers are simply not aware of what the CO2 impact is going to be, we think if they were they may well consider that some of the alternative solutions might be a better choice. We need to move things off the road and onto the rail.”