This year, we celebrated the 51st Earth Day. On this day, emerging environmental consciousness and concerns make it onto the front page, yet in fact, “Earth Day” should be every day. Working towards the Sustainable Development Goals is imperative for a better future, and there are projects, ideas and start-ups that create global, national and local changes step by step each day of the year.
Here are 10 projects that focus on working towards Sustainable Development Goals in the areas of Earth, Energy, Water, Animals and plants, Circular economy, Improving the quality of life and Plastic waste:
SDG 9: to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.
Building construction is one of the most material and carbon-intensive industries responsible for air pollution and waste production. Let’s focus on one of the problems: excavated earth from construction sites mostly ends up being dumped or transported far away from the origin and landfilled as waste. Are there solutions to this issue?
A Brussels-based company, BC materials recovers surplus earth mass from construction sites and transforms it into construction materials. The concept is based on using already available raw materials and transforming the excavated solid ground to provide it to building companies, architects and homeowners in a virtuous closed loop. The ambition is to make it possible for the building sector to lower its carbon emissions, reduce waste and create healthy and qualitative environments for working and living.
Google Maps is building a new routing model that optimises for lower fuel consumption based on road incline and traffic congestion. It will use emissions data based on testing across different cars and road types, drawing on insights from the US government’s National Renewable Energy Lab.
As long as many cities around the world have established low emission zones, Google Maps is also working on alerts to help drivers better understand when they’ll be navigating through one of these zones.
Eco-friendly routes launch in the US later this year, with a global expansion on the way, Google said in a blog post.
SDG 7: affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Would you like to catch wind and use it for your needs while outdoors? A professional wind turbine made from high-quality recycled fibre, which takes just 15 minutes to set up, was unveiled by Copenhagen-based start-up KiteX. Inspired by kites, this device is perfect for campers: weighing 10 kg, its folding design allows it to be stored in a 200x20x20 cm bag, and it can produce up to 600W depending on the model; enough to charge an e-bike or boil water. The other model, the 200W Wind Catcher lite, is the ideal turbine for lower wind speed climate and the generated power is enough for running a small fridge, a few lights or charging a laptop.
An electric vehicle charging point based on tidal energy has started operations on Yell, an island north of mainland Scotland. The charging point obtains its electricity from Nova Innovation’s Shetland Tidal Array, a four turbine installation in Bluemull Sound, a strait between islands Yell and Unst.
Nova Innovation, that transforms the power of the seas into clean, predictable energy, represents the Yell’s project as “the first ever electric vehicle … charge point where drivers can ‘fill up’ directly from a tidal energy source.”
The facility is one of a number of projects based on tidal power that helps decarbonise part of Scotland’s transport sector in the islands, facilitating the Scottish government’s move away from traditional fuels by the year 2030.
SDG 6: to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
In Peru and different parts of the world, there is still the habit of washing clothes in rivers. This routine is not only practical but is also a part of the Peruvian cultural heritage. Unfortunately, the cleaning products women use end up spilling into the river and contaminating it.
A Peru based mineral water brand Andea, together with a team of engineers, chemists and biologists from Cirsys, have found a unique microorganism capable of generating probiotics that feed on the pollutants of the river and put them in laundry soap bars. When being used, soap releases particles that fall into the water. There, particles adhere to the stones and algae, decontaminating the river.
Animals and plants
SDG 15: protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
Piñatex® is an innovative textile made from waste pineapple leaf fibres for use as a sustainable alternative to both mass-produced leather and polluting synthetic materials, offering a better choice for a better future. It is made from the pineapple plant leaves, the byproduct of the fruit industry, which are traditionally discarded or burned. With special treatment, the final material is ready to be used in fashion, furnishings and even automotive applications.
SDG 12: ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Save Your Wardrobe is a mobile application that helps customers seamlessly and effortlessly digitise their wardrobe. The app learns customers’ behaviours and recommends new outfits based on what they own and provides conscious shopping recommendations and an ecosystem of services for repair, dry clean or donations. The aim is to guide users on how to make the most of their wardrobe. Save Your Wardrobe will help them reconnect with the contents of their wardrobe, and ultimately, encourage people to buy less.
Improving the quality of life
SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages.
Would you like to get real-time feedback on your moves and poses while practising yoga online, to be sure you are doing everything right? Meet Zenia, a motion-tracking yoga app that tracks movement through your phone’s camera and tells you if you are not doing the exercises correctly. The app can identify 16 joints across the body, and a built-in voice assistant provides feedback on your yoga practice. The software also adapts to each user’s pace, and it monitors progress over time to offer metric-based feedback.
The ubiquitous plastic has managed to pervade many of the SDGs in one way or another. So we have also included two companies that are tackling the issue of plastic waste.
Do you know what the second-largest microplastic pollutant in our ocean is after single-use plastic?
The correct answer is tyre wear, and it also accounts for up to 50% of air particulate emission from road transport. A British start-up, The Tyre Collective, developed a device to mitigate microplastic emissions by capturing tyre wear at the source to ensure clean air, safeguarding our environment and health.
The device is positioned close to where the tyre meets the road to take advantage of airflow around a spinning wheel, and captures charged tyre particles thanks to carbon in rubber particles being charged as they tear off of the tyre. Captured pieces are gathered in a removable storage unit. Once collected, these fragments are processed and can be reused, creating a closed-loop system.
Can we transform used cosmetic packaging into something beautiful and useful? Handle an innovative start-up with a circular approach, believes that used beauty packaging isn’t waste but a raw material that can be repurposed. Handle collects beauty packaging directly from salons, retailers and consumers, then recycles and repurposes the different materials to create a premium range of beauty accessories with handles made entirely from the recycled material.
Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% — has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment. (UNEP.org).
That means that the best way to diminish plastic pollution is to use less of it.
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