Listening to the way conservatives like to talk up dirty, inefficient and old-fashioned industries, because of the money they can generate, you’d be forgiven for thinking that companies who make a positive impact on the world and run their businesses with the environment at the forefront of their priorities are unable to generate big money. These ten companies show that you can save the world and spin a huge profit while doing so.
The world’s best known innovative company, headed perhaps unsurprisingly by the world’s best known innovator Elon Musk, is right at the forefront across a number of market sectors. First electric, and now increasingly automated vehicles make up a significant part of Tesla’s business, but its ventures into battery power and solar are equally impressive.
Puerto Rico endured one of the most destructive hurricanes to have rocked the Caribbean island in living memory earlier this year, with hundreds losing their lives and many, many more affected. Power outages on 90% of the island made the much needed clean up effort impossible to get underway. Enter, Elon Musk. Causing problems with the production of his own products in the process, Elon Musk had container loads of Powerwalls to the Carribean island, and had solar panels installed on a children’s hospital, getting it back up and running within days.
2. Memphis Meat
For those who haven’t yet seen Cowspiracy, or are otherwise unaware of the massive environmental toll that animal agriculture takes, here’s the thing; we need to massively reduce the amount of meat we consume. Or, at the very least, we need to massively reduce the amount of energy needed and the amount of waste produced in producing all that meat we love so much. That’s where Memphis Meat come in. They use biotechnology, to take animal stem cells and eventually turn them into tasty, tasty muscle tissue – or meat – all in a lab. This process, if-perfected, could mean a new way of producing meat which doesn’t have anything like the number environmental issues or animal rights concerns as the current meat industry. Until now, they’ve released videos of their cultured Meatball, Chicken & Duck dishes, no word on Bacon yet!
The company expects to have products market-ready by 2021, and with the current costs of production coming in it around $2400 per pound, there’s a fair way to go to make Memphis Meat affordable. But, considering their original round of fundraising attracted over $17million worth of investment from the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson, there’s plenty of cause to have faith they’ll do it.
3. SolarWindow Technologies
In the fight against climate change, moving away from fossil fuels will be crucial, and Solar panels have and will likely continue to revolutionize the way we create power in a cleaner way, but they aren’t without limitations. Like many other renewable energies, their critics pick fault with both efficacy and aesthetic – as though coal mines and power plants are so attractive.
But SolarWindow – probably the solar industry’s most exciting company – manufactures see-through, electricity-generating windows to be installed in detached buildings. Their ultimate goal is to provide transparent solar windows for all of “America’s 85 million detached domestic and commercial buildings”.The benefits of SolarWindow’s product are substantial; its purportedly 50x more efficient than rooftop solar and made from organic materials; it generates both energy and a financial reward for customers, and benefits the environment.
4. Bios Urns
Though not the easiest subject to broach, the question of how we can make the process of death as environmentally friendly, while considering our ever-increasing shortage of space, is a difficult one. Though there are an increasing number of alternatives to traditional burial options now available, perhaps the most innovative among them, are Bios Urns‘ products.
Run by brothers Gerard & Roger Moline of Barcelona, Bios Urns offer a “smart, sustainable, eco-friendly solution to approach an inevitable phase of life”. Bios Urns make biodegradable urns that turn the ashes of a loved one into a tree and in doing so, turns death into an act of regeneration and a return to nature. The Bios Urns solution is better for the environment and much cheaper than current methods – and undeniably cute! With over 100,000 units sold since 2012, it would seem we’re not the only ones who think so.
5. Bergey Wind Power
The long-established leaders in the field of wind power, with a focus on personal and domestic applications. Bergey’s approach encourages individuals to take the use of renewable energy into their own hands, with turbines that are affordable for homeowners and small businesses.
Their products have a well-earned reputation for longevity; it’s common for customers to completely power their house using wind power alone for up to 20 years, without maintenance. But even by making a partial contribution to energy consumption in areas with less windy climate, these turbines will still likely provide a solid return on investment. By empowering consumers to move at-least partially to wind power in this way, Bergey Wind Power are among the most innovative companies in the renewables sector.
6. Skipping Rocks Lab
According to Greenpeace, over 12 million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year. The effect on the ocean’s inhabitants is startling, with all variations of plastic causing major problems for Plankton, Blue Whale and everything in between. A massive amount of that plastic comes from plastic water bottles – Coca Cola alone produces an estimated 100 billion plastic bottles every year!
UK start-up Skipping Rocks Lab have developed a potentially world-changing product that offers an alternative to plastic bottles. Oooho is made from seaweed and plants, so its totally biodegradable; its edible and can be flavored and colored; plus it’s cheaper than plastic! This product could potentially hold almost anything a plastic container could – including cosmetics and alcohol – so there’s no good reason we shouldn’t start seeing these all over the place pretty soon!
Another company with plastic firmly in their sights, AMAM is a design collective from Japan, who use agar to make packaging products. Agar is a seaweed-based material used traditionally in Japanese culture, and the team at AMAM have used it to manufacture an alternative to plastic, Agar Plasticity, with which they hope one day to completely replace all plastic-based packaging.
Being cheaper, easier to make and totally biodegradable, it should go without saying that to even half-achieve their goal would have an enormously beneficial effect on the environment, particularly our oceans.
Patagonia’s take on being an environmentally conscious company is pretty unique, particularly for such a mainstream, on-trend brand. As well as maintaining the highest ethical standards throughout the manufacturing process, they actively encourage customers to think about their consumption of all products – even their own – and about wastefulness. They encourage customers to mend and make-do with existing products, instead of buying more.
One part of fighting the threat of climate change will inevitably mean addressing our consumer habits and Patagonia are one of the only brands to be having this conversation, which is all the more impressive, considering its potentially negative effect on their bottom line.
You’ve no doubt seen these stylish plimsolls all over the place, but did you know that they’re considered by many to be on of the most eco-friendly footwear brands around? Not only do they manufacture and package their goods with recyclable and vegan materials but they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold.
In the 11 years since TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie came up with the idea, his company has donated 60 million pairs of shoes worldwide to those in need and recently, the company have started providing other help, such as clean drinking water & safe birth kits.
Small in size, but not in impact; Aqua-Yield’s technology is one of the most significant innovations in the agricultural business in recent history, and certainly the smallest. By utilizing nanotechnology, their product delivers liquid nutrition to crops on a cellular level, meaning lower costs for growers and better, healthier produce grown faster, without damaging soil.