‘System 001’ Back In Ocean Waters to Collect Trillions of Plastic Particles

The Ocean Cleanup has relaunched System 001 back into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located half way between Hawaii and California. This is the most concentrated area for ocean plastic and debris anywhere on the planet, home to more than one trillion particles weighing nearly 80,000 metric tons. The team created ‘System 001’ tasked with removing 90% of these plastics by 2040. To do so, led by CEO Boyan Slat, they’ve developed the passive drifting system designed to float across this heavily polluted region between Hawaii and California. It is currently patrolling ocean waters, continuing on its mission of cleaning our oceans after learning of some faults in the previous design.

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In March the system returned to Hilo Harbour in Hawaii after it ran into complications including physical damage which resulted in an emergency exit from open waters. The structural issues were identified and the system has since been rebuilt about 2/3 of its initial size and shed its original stabilizer frames, now stretching a total of 400m. Electronics on board were reduced and simplified to allow for the accompanying changes. The more challenging issue that pressed the team was difficulties maintaining a consistent speed. Failure to do so meant plastic was able to escape and re-enter ocean waters. Two solutions were brought forward by the Ocean Cleanup team and will be seeing their initial tests in action soon.

Solution A:

The first idea, Plan A, has System 001 equipped with floating buoys. In theory, the floating buoys on the front of System 001 would carry momentum and tow the project forward, keeping the plastic within reach.

Solution B

Plan B uses a parachute like sea anchor that is designed to slow down the floating pipes to so that plastic travels faster than the system, pushing into it instead of moving away. This method will be to deploy a 20-meter-diameter parachute that would slow the system down closer to the speed of the water. After testing in ocean waters, the team confirmed that the this sea anchor would perform as expected.

Design changes have become more modular hopefully allowing for the team to make changes at sea rather than taking the long trip back to land. The goal moving forwards is that the Ocean Cleanup will gain valuable insights over the next few months as to the feasibility of these solutions. Changes can then be made to appropriately address concerns.

Autonomous Solar and Wind Powered Boats

The Ocean Cleanup is entering a new chapter in their journey to rid the ocean of trillions of plastic particles, and this launch will not be the last in the teams efforts to protect our environment. Join the Millennial Online Community for updates on sustainable developments and ethical companies helping to create a more sustainable future for the next generation. Members receive a weekly newsletter of hand picked sustainable developments and cleantech news from across the web.

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The Best Sustainable Plastic Straw Alternatives

Plastic straws and single-use plastics are being banned in locations worldwide at an exciting rate. Starting with individual corporations, entire countries have now implemented steps towards a complete elimination of the trash. Individual states like NY and Vermont have also joined in, making statements with their own green policies. Tens of billions of straws are used each year and are one of the most found plastics on beaches and in oceans. There are companies attempting to clean trillions of plastic particles from our oceans, but it is counterproductive for our society to continue to pollute our waters. We are proudly moving away from these wasteful products by both choice and policy, but there is now a need for substitutes both at home and on the go. After trying out a few options, these are the two best plastic straw alternatives offering high quality, reliable options that are helping on this environmental mission.

The Silicon Straw Bracelet

The straw bracelet is perfect. For less than $10 you can carry a Strawbit silicon straw with you around your wrist whenever you’re on the go. It doesn’t have to be around your wrist either as people get creative and snap these on the straps of their bags, on lanyards and can often be seen hanging inside peoples cars. Can’t get much simpler than this. The benefits of silicon is the long lasting durability of the product as well as resistance to heat and temperature change.

Stainless Steel Full Set

When it comes to value, you can’t go wrong with the zero waste stainless steel Huemankind set. Included is 2 washable, anti-bacterial linen straw bags each with 3 sizes of aesthetically pleasing rainbow hued straws (total of 6 straws), 4 cleaning brushes, and 2 bamboo travel cases. One set can stay at home while the other is used as a travel set. Stainless steel alternative straws are also a very durable option, easy to clean, long lasting and environmentally friendly. https://amzn.to/2Kjfkrb

Straws that enter our waterways and environment break down into small plastics being ingested by essentially every living thing on the planet. The best way to protect the ecosystem from the effects of pollution is to reduce our plastic use and replace it with sustainable solutions whether we are talking alternative straws or any other single-use product. The Millennial Online Community is a growing group committed only to being mindful of our environmental impact. Join us for a weekly roundup of sustainable developments, ethical brands and cleantech creating a better future for the next generation.

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These Wooden Mechanical Educational 3D Puzzles Have Become Kids New Favorite Toys

It wasn’t that long ago that kids toys were made exclusively from wood. Today, toys like Barbie’s Dream House and Nerf guns bring are super sellers, bringing a ton of joy to kids ranking among the hottest selling products on the planet. One company however, has created dozens of alternatives made from wood (believe it or not) that actually have kids clamoring for them like they’re iPads. A selection of 3D DIY robotic and mechanical STEM toys may very well be the most interesting children’s toys for both kids and parents alike. 

These are not the easiest toys to configure… a little more challenging than Star Wars Lego sets. What you can expect from them though is stimulated creativity and a confidence upon completion that exceeds what kids would receive from any other puzzle or interactive toy.  

Steam punk music boxes can be assembled that resemble robots, or a model of a solar powered wooden space rover. It is very unique to see kids today playing with wood in such a futuristic and mechanical way. Intelligent puzzles that can model video cameras, locomotive trains or blimps will easily inspire the imagination of parents. The suggested age to complete these is around 12 years old, but without adult supervision and assistance I know I wouldn’t have finished these at that age. 

The pendulum clock (here) or the marble runs have got to be the coolest, but definitely not the easiest to put together. Walking, talking dinosaurs and cute kitten flower pots are among some of the simpler toys to make. The DIY dollhouses are incredibly detailed, but be sure to get protective showcase for your creations. 

World renowned architectural structures like the Eiffel Tower (here) cab be reconstructed with these wooden toys, or some musical instruments. Whether there is an interest in airplanes, farm animals or pianos, Robotime literally has a 3D interactive puzzle that will satisfy interests and spark creativity. The time consumed when completing these educational toys is time well spent, creating learning opportunities and offering insights into how things work.

Wood is being used to build more than just toys, from thousand foot tall skyscrapers to t-shirts and everything in between. For weekly updates on new sustainable products and ethical brands that are helping create a more sustainable future for the next generation, join the Millennial Online Community


Clean Tech Startup Raises $100 Million to Build Vertical Farms In Your City – Infarm

Vertical farm startup Infarm has sprouted tall recently, closing a $100 million series B round to further spread their roots. This Berlin clean tech company is focusing on creating a sustainable food system, one that doesn’t waste over 30% of the global food supply. Their modular farms are designed with scalability in mind and are located in the heart of urban areas of Germany, France, and Switzerland. By growing fresh, organic, local grown pesticide free produce right next door to residents, you remove a huge percentage of the environmental costs. How long until AI is picking your vegetables in a warehouse before a drone delivers it to your door, fresher than ever.

Today the company is harvesting more than 150,000 plants each month for retailers such as Amazon Fresh and Metro. The new cash will be used to expand the brand into the U.K, U.S, and Japan.

The vertical farms are monitored over the cloud and are constantly kept at ideal growing conditions for 365 days a year. Parsley, crystal lettuce, basil, Egyptian lavender, and scarlet Kale are some of the fresh greens that Infarm grows for their customers. The opportunity for oxidization and food waste is dramatically reduced since transport time is cut down to only a few miles instead of hundreds or thousands. 

Infarm is not the only clean tech startup that is making headlines. Ripple Foods, producer of the Ultimate Alternative Dairy and Protein Products, use pea protein to tackle the sustainable food system by reducing GhG emission to up to 83% of standard alternatives. Pea protein uses 25X less water than traditional dairy and 6X less than almond milk. 

Due to government action plans and commitments to reduce our carbon footprint, sustainably operating businesses are growing faster than ever. Join the Millennial Online Community to stay informed with information for the next generation.

Ambitious Plans to Remove Trillions of Plastic Particles from the Open Ocean

There are trillions of plastic particles floating amongst marine life right now, and a disturbing amount of that trash can be found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch of the North Pacific gyre. This massive, plastic dense area forms from four clashing ocean currents creating a vortex spanning from Japan to California. Estimates suggest over one trillion particles, nearly 80,000 metric tons, are floating in this region alone. This is the most populated area for ocean plastic and debris anywhere on earth.

Can we clean the oceans?

A 24 year old Dutch entrepreneur says 50% of these plastic particles could be removed in 5 years. By 2040, 90% of floating ocean plastic could be removed and the earth would once again have clean oceans.

The solution

The team at the Ocean Cleanup created a 600m long floating horseshoe that uses natural forces from wind, waves and the ocean currents to patrol the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The current technology, named System 001, has a skirt 3 meters below the surface to help guide the plastic, gradually funneling it to the centre of the ‘U’ shaped system.

open ocean cleanup system to capture trillions of plastic particles from the ocean
System 001 setup : theOceanCleanup

Designed to withstand extreme weather and brutal storms at sea, System 001 is equipped with cameras, lights, GPS, anti-collision beacons, radar reflectors and navigational signals.

The first mission was launched out of San Francisco Bay in September of 2018. By January of 2019 they reached Hilo Harbour in Hawaii for maintenance and upgrades after some troubles at sea.

An Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted through CSA Ocean Sciences that turned up no major environmental risks, and yielded a single medium risk out of the 29 analyzed factors. The risk was the potential attraction of sea turtles to the cleanup system. The feared result being the ingestion of floating plastics that the turtles mistaken for jellyfish, a favorite snack.

More than 60 mammals were encountered on the 116 day journey to Hawaii, including 52 whales and 3 California sea lions. One unidentified sea turtle was recorded as well.

image : theOceanCleanup
The design is such that it does not trap fish and other marine life, only plastics.

One of the main issues for System 001 was the inability to stay at a constant speed faster than the floating plastic. When the project slowed down, plastic was often re-released back into the ocean.

Open Ocean Robotics

There are emerging technologies happening simultaneously that could help propel the ocean cleanup, notably Open Ocean Robotics. This startup develops autonomous solar and wind powered boats used for research and data collection.

Open Ocean Robotics developed autonomous wind and solar powered boats

For starters, there is an opportunity to cut costs and increase the efficiency of the Ocean Cleanup garbage collection. Instead of bringing a large vessel in every few months to collect plastic, the unmanned vehicles could be sent in more often and with less hassle. These boats could drastically reduce the projects overall greenhouse gas emissions. Removing a large vessel from the ocean for just one week saves the equivalent of a years worth of emissions from 100 cars.

Another possible use is as an alternative method for transportation which could solve their troubles of falling to speeds slower than floating debris. Technology like that found on the Open Ocean Robotics boats could act like a generator providing that extra power when needed using 100% renewable energy.

The Ocean Cleanup system was demobilized in late March of 2019 with the intention of being relaunched from the Hawaiian mainland in the third week of June.

Join the Millennial Online Community for a weekly newsletter with new sustainable developments and ethical brands that are helping create a better future for the next generation.

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The Ultimate Alternative Protein & Dairy Products

  • Raised over 100 million from high profile investors like the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation
  • Sustainable dairy alternative uses 25X less water than traditional dairy and 6X less than almond milk
  • The alternative dairy market projected to hit $11 billion while traditional milk market to drop to $16 billion
  • 60% of US children are calcium deficient and 70% are Vitamin D deficient.
  • California almond industry is responsible for using the same amount of water that the entire city of San Francisco uses in 17 years

Peas. I love em! English, snow or sugar either snap, boiled, mashed or fresh out of the pod. So good. After researching the environmental benefits of switching to alternative protein products, I love peas even more. Some people eat peas, and some break records with them. In particular David Rush who holds a few such as the furthest distance to blow a pea or the most eaten in 30 seconds with a tooth pick, all for STEM research! (Check out Davids World Record Videos.

Aside from David,  two standout scientists Neil Renninger and Adam Lowry, have also done some unique things with the versatile vegetable. Out of there work grew the cleantech company Ripple Foods, and both men have quite a strong history of creating revolutionary ethical products in the past.

A history of ethical products and innovations

The official Ripple Foods website says that founders “Neil and Adam are committed to making a difference. Adam created Method to bring the world sustainable, beautiful cleaning products… Neil helped develop a production process for an anti-malarial compound that is now used to make more than 100 million treatments a year.”

What they have now formulated can only be described as a better alternative to dairy and almond milk products for both our bodies and the environment.

ripple foods alternative protein product line
Pea protein blended into a long line of alternative protein and dairy products.
Ripple Foods

The right way to get natural nutrients

The companies uniquely blended pea protein is called Ripptein and can be found in a long list of items. The flagship product is Ripple Milk (on sale here), which nutritionally carries half the sugar plus 50% more calcium compared to dairy milk and 8x the protein of almond milk. As expected, products are made from all natural ingredients free of dairy, nuts, soy and GMOs.

Ripple aims to provide nutritious healthy dairy alternatives to people who need it through sustainable innovations in the food system. One third of children in the United States are currently overweight yet shockingly 70% are Vitamin D deficient and 60% are calcium deficient. HALF of the global population lives at sub-optimal nutrition levels.

A nutritious low sugar, high protein dairy free plant based milk is not the only alternative protein product offered. Ripptein pea protein is in more products than just Ripple milk. For sale on Amazon, the vegan protein powder, and pre-made protein shakes are among other popular available products offered by the San Francisco based startup.

Packaged in 100% recycled plastic for the most sustainable product possible

The environmental impact of switching to pea proteins are even more abundantly obvious than the nutritional benefits. An ethical commitment is made by Ripple through all products being packaged in completely recyclable bottles made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic with complete exclusion of foil seals. This is a standard that all brands should thrive to follow.

The California almond industry is responsible for using the same amount of water that the entire city of San Francisco uses in 17 years – INSANITY!

Studies suggest that by 2030, alternative proteins could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1000 mega tonnes of CO2 eq, reduce freshwater withdrawals by up to 400 billion cubic meters, and free up to 400 million hectares of land… that is twice the size of Mexico!

Peas use a significantly less amount of land, water, and resources than required for its nut and cattle counterparts.

In comparison to Ripple milk, almond milk uses 6X more water while dairy uses 25X more water to produce and more amazingly, growing almonds uses 100X more water than growing peas. The carbon footprint is dramatically reduced when switching to pea protein.

Ripple Milk produces 83% less greenhouse gas emissions than almond milk, and almost 50% of dairy milk.

The alternative protein market is growing strong

Ripple is disrupting the entire food system having raised $100 million to tackle the milk alternative market (which is expected to rise near $11 billion this year as traditional milk sales decline below $16 billion).

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recently funded more research done by Ripple Foods to improve sustainable protein sources in developing nations.

Alternative dairy options are often the first products that consumers try when moving towards more plant based options. But, you can always take it a little further with Ripples recipes available on their site for options like keto vegan peanut butter eggs, raspberry lemon scones, onion rings, truffles and even lattes.

Oat Milk a Favorite for Flavor

If you’re looking for another alternative, oat milk is definitely up there in terms of favorites. Definitely highly raved about by consumers, the best one has to be from Califia Farms (amzn).

Alternative protein products are necessary for a sustainable food system, and we’re glad that there are companies out there offering alternatives. The future of our planet relies on more efficiency and less wasted resources, especially in the traditional dairy market. These new solutions are just the start of a sustainable revolution that strongly benefits the global community and our earth as a whole. Join the Millennial Online Community for weekly updates regarding new sustainable developments and ethical products that our creating a better future for the next generation.

The Rules and Laws Governments Need to Enforce to Combat the Climate Crisis

We hear lots from our world leaders about reducing global carbon emissions, moving towards clean energy solutions, and cleaning up our oceans. But sometimes I wonder if governments are even actually thinking of solutions, or just adding buzzwords into their speeches for political gain. Plenty of chatter about reallocated funds and goals for reduced greenhouse gas emissions. That is not a solution. The benefits of their action plans are showing as innovation surges in the clean tech sector. But promises are not enough. We need government to act on their action plans!

Sweden

Sweden was the first country to establish an environmental protection agency, and they plan to be carbon neutral by 2050. The Scandinavian country currently prides themselves with using the highest percentage of renewable energy use in the entire EU. They expect to rely on those sources for 55% of the total energy output in just the next couple of years. About 40% of the countries electricity is generated by nuclear power today and is being gradually phased out.

The United Kingdom

By the same 2050 deadline, the United Kingdom hopes to reduce carbon emissions to 80% of 1990 levels. A Committee on Climate Change report found that the U.K. will not meet it’s legally binding targets from the Paris Agreement “without the near-complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK buildings.”

France

In Frances climate action plan, they outlined intent to completely eliminate the sale of petrol and diesel cars, and to leave all fossil fuels beneath the soil by 2040.

Setting goals is a great idea, but you have to create a strategy for success. Let’s dive into a few REAL ideas about how we can actually make strides towards a more sustainable planet through rules, laws and action. A polluted planet is not what we want to leave the next generation.

Cigarette butts tossed on the floor should be enforced as a crime.

We’ll start with the earths largest contributor of litter. It’s normalized by generations to flick cigarette butts away if no more convenient option arises. Well citizens could start having to look over their shoulders because that small action is causing mass harm, and it’s punishable by law. These pieces of waste get swept up in the rain and end up in our waterways creating hazards for marine life and costing cities excessive amounts of tax payer dollars going towards water treatment.

Plastic bags should have been banned years ago…

Plastic bag restrictions are in place in many places, why is it not illegal yet. You CAN shop without them at only a minor inconvenience, one that humans would surely adapt to. It’s preposterous that we have not closed the door on this foolish product. TRILLIONS are being sent out to decompose into tiny plastic particles. The Ocean Cleanup is cleaning our waters of trillions of these particles, but the answer is to seal the leak, not replace the bucket at the bottom.

Do We Need To Use All This Paper?

While we’re inside the bathroom, the same could go for paper towels instead of hand dryers. Why is there a choice to even have these in public places. We’ve seen the mess it creates inside restrooms, and we know what a waste of paper it is. Yet here we are. Junk mail contributes billions of pounds of waste to the landfill each year.

Straws?

Straws are being banned by major corporations but not all, that will eventually change. What are we waiting for? By 2020 there should be no more straws!

If the government doesn’t care and government won’t act, how can we ever expect our communities to?

Is it necessary to have paper cups branded, reducing the potential for recycling and sometimes entirely eliminating the possibility?

Stop Single Use Plastic

Single use plastic products should be banned for good, and single use paper products should be forced into non-branding products at the very least. This is embarrassing. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced that the country will start enforcing a ban on single use plastics in 2021. What products that means is still unclear, stating they are “moving forward on a science-based approach to establishing which harmful single-use plastics we will be eliminating.”

Unnecessary dyed and colored plastics

Plastic water bottles are bad enough, but why is it legal for bottled beverage companies to include colored caps. Bottled water and soda companies dying caps colors ruin the ability for these things to be recycled properly. A colorful floating plastic cap is probably a tasty looking treat for marine life too…

Wasting Disturbing Amounts of Water

How many times have I walked into a public restroom to see the water running from faucet yet nobody is even inside the room, let alone washing their hands. All new sink installations at public and community buildings should include sensors or mechanisms to automatically turn off the taps after short periods bouts of time. The technology exists, it’s in many places today and it should be everywhere.

Governments Must Act on Action Plans

We should all be embarrassed of our elected leaders for not taking meaningful and simple steps. How much do reusable bags cost? A lot less than the environmental and subsequent economical costs plastic bags place on our society. 

People forget reusable bags at home because they are not necessary. We don’t forget our wallet and shoes on our way there and if we do, we learn from those mistakes and don’t make them again… the corporations who make these plastic bags have had many years to pivot and redeploy resources, and if not they should have gotten with the times. 

Nobody will complain when these inevitable decisions get made, and the countries who make them will be touted as leaders for the people and the planet. It starts with us to take action for the well being of the planet. Join the Millennial Online Community to stay up to date with sustainable products, ethical brands and clean tech creating a better future for the next generation.

Autonomous Solar and Wind Powered Boats Will Soon Patrol Our Oceans

  • Solar and wind powered self driving boats
  • Provide a constant stream of unprecedented live data about our oceans temperatures, sea level, currents, etc
  • Monitor for oil spills and research migrating animals
  • Map waters to dangerous for manned boats while monitoring for illegal fisherman
  • removing a traditional offshore research vessel from the ocean for 7 days is equivalent to the emissions of 100 cars over an entire year. 

Julie Angus of www.AngusAdventures.com is assembling the ‘Auto-Bots’… or at least the ‘Autoboats.’ The clean tech company at which she operates as CEO, Open Ocean Robotics, is developing solar and wind powered autonomous boats to create an Internet of Things (IoT) for the ocean. To collect some test data, an unmanned watercraft is attempting to be the first to successfully complete the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The boats carry sensors, cameras and communication devices that gather valuable information which can be used for multiple purposes. The equipment can collect data to help protect at-risk marine animals, determine more fuel-efficient shipping routes, and contribute to a better understanding of the effects climate change has on our oceans.

Julie and her husband Colin are sending out the robots because, well, they’ve already rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. The pair has also rafted the Amazon River, completing the first human-powered journey around the world. No surprise, they are also recipients of the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award. The lightweight, durable autonomous boats they have developed are powered by wind and solar sustainable energy solutions.

solar and wind powered autonomous boats sailing across ocean
Force12 Xplorer autonomous sailboat by Open Ocean Robotics

The company has two models, the Force12 Xplorer and the Solar Xplorer. The first is a self righting sailboat that is expected to sail this summer from Newfoundland, Canada covering some 5000KM until arriving in Ireland.

The Solar Xplorer is expected to be the “world’s fastest offshore-capable energy harvesting boat.” The electric Solar Xplorer willl be deployed from California with the intentions to cross the Pacific, through the Southern Ocean, around Antarctica, and then back to California. If the journey is successful, they will be the first to complete it autonomously out of 28 attempts. 

worlds fastest offshore capable boat, solar powered environmentally friendly autonomous craft crossing oceans
image : Open Ocean Robotics
Solar Xplorer autonomous craft is expected to be the worlds fastest offshore-capable energy harvesting boat

Detect oil spills and illegal fishing vessels

Equipment on board the Solar Xplorer and Force12 Xplorer’s can monitor for oil spills while detecting acidification, sea level increases, ocean currents as well as cameras which could be used to look for things like illegally operating fishing vessels. The boats travel for months on end without emitting any greenhouse gases or noise pollution carry no risk for oil spills.

The impact these boats will have on our oceans

Self-driving boats harvesting wind and solar energy would offer a theoretically constant data stream from various mobile spots in the ocean. Environmentally friendly fleets could be used to patrol the outskirts of coral reefs monitoring for things like temperature change which could help in understanding and preventing coral bleaching. Self-driving boats running on renewable energy could be constantly surveying the oceans gathering useful information that could be used in a number of circumstances, providing us with a better understanding of our oceans.

They may peacefully come across endangered or migrating species giving us a glimpse into their elusive worlds, or maybe even give us the answers to some unexplained questions like where the worlds largest fish, the whale shark, gives birth or mates. Neither of these have been observed in the wild!

A key value of having these vehicles be autonomous or satellite controlled is that they can be brought into areas unfit for crafts carrying people. Open Ocean Robotics envisions use cases like mapping the 99% of the Canadian Arctic that has not been charted to modern standards in the last quarter century. Global warming adds challenges to the already unpredictable Arctic and it’s glaciers that can often be too dangerous to bring manned vehicles through. As an added bonus, removing a traditional offshore research vessel from the ocean for 7 days is equivalent to the emissions of 100 cars over an entire year. 

Julie’s startup was a winner at the 2018 “Women in Cleantech” competition held between the Canadian government and the Mars Discovery District, receiving $800,000 as well as access to government labs and useful research institutions. The money is being put towards research and development as well as protecting proprietary developments. They have since expanded their workspace and office facilities, currently operating from the Vancouver Island Technology Park. 

Watch The Open Ocean Robotics Force12 Xplorer in action

Despite everything Julie and her team are doing, they are not the only ones dedicated to creating a clean ocean and a sustainable future for the next generation. One startup has a system in the water today that is attempting to clean trillions of plastic particles from our oceans. Subscribe to the Millennial Online Community for weekly updates on sustainable developments and ethical brands that are creating a better future for the next generation!

 

Startups Fighting the Climate Crisis by Innovating Sustainable Solutions

sustainable forest storing carbon in nature
  • Revolutionary sustainable building materials are being innovated to reduce global carbon emission
  • A ‘concrete jungle’ currently stores the equivalent of a forest nearly two thirds the size of the African Samoa
  • Wooden skyscrapers are being built nearly the size of the Empire State Building

Concrete is the most consumed material on the planet and a major contributor to the ongoing climate crisis. The popular building material is responsible for 7% of the worlds total carbon dioxide emissions. Worse it is often poured where trees once stood tall, storing carbon while providing us with much need clean oxygen.

Now skyscrapers compete for sunshine where the trees used to, roads and sidewalks connecting them like roots above the soil.

Reducing the carbon footprint of concrete to create a more sustainable future 

In an effort to reduce carbon emissions in new buildings to zero, CarbonCure is providing new meaning to the term ‘concrete jungle.’ Founded by CEO Robert Niven, the companies tech has added some much needed functionality to our most produced building material.

By infusing carbon dioxide (CO2) inside of fresh concrete the gas is stored for the materials entire lifetime. This process is called CO2 mineralization and the added carbon fortifies the cement further. The resulting product is not only stronger but offers a quick and effective ethical solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at build sites.

The concrete and construction industries current contributions to climate change is irresponsible and unsustainable. There is a desperate need to counter the excessive waste of resources while reducing our total carbon footprint.

inside (CarbonCure) concrete is the equivalent to the absorption from 30,000 acres of forestland.

As of June of 2019 CarbonCure’s sustainable solution has reduced more than 68 million pounds of CO2 that would otherwise be in our atmosphere. That amount of CO2 trapped inside concrete is the equivalent to the absorption from 30,000 acres of forestland. That amount of forest would cover nearly two third of the entire African Samoa.

beautiful sustainable building storing carbon inside carboncure concrete
Photo: carboncure.com
CarbonCure concrete used at the Bergeron Centre for Engineerings Excellence

Clean building solutions being used internationally

Some high profile companies like McDonalds and MGM have built with the carbon storing cement and it’s been used for the construction of community centers, hospitals, and university buildings. CarbonCure is produced in over 100 locations from the USA to Southeast Asia.

It is no wonder that for four consecutive years CarbonCure has been honored in the ‘Global Cleantech 100’. A study from the United Kingdoms Committee on Climate Change concluded that Britain would fail to meet the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement “without the near complete elimination of greenhouse gas emissions from UK building.”

Cleantech company capturing and removing CO2 from industrial processes

Salcape owns the patent for the process known as CCMS; Carbon Capture in Molten Salts. The brand was founded on December 12, 2015, the same day that the Paris Agreement was signed. The Norwegian based cleantech company offers technology for smart industrial CO2 removal by capturing toxic gas produced in heavy pollution industries like cement, metal works and power plants.

Salcape says they’ve essentially created a zero waste process using molten salts with a technique known as calcium looping. Calcium oxide (CaO) absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) and releases it at high temperatures (and vice versa) during this process. 

The key to Salcape’s process lies in the use of molten salts instead of an additive. This removes waste and makes for an extremely energy efficient solution. The company says their method “removes all known issues found in other calcium looping processes.”

Innovations in wood materials are also being used… to build just about anything

Concrete isn’t the only building material getting a cleantech renovation. Many parts of a sustainable future will be built with wood, as environmentally focused startups are creating flexible woods to mimic plastics and thousand foot tall skyscrapers. Clothes, furniture and shoes are also being made from wood fibers.

Viable alternative and sustainable building materials like cross laminated timber gain popularity, but one thing is for certain. Concrete will be poured tomorrow.

New technologies share ambitions of redesigning the most consumed man-made material to be more sustainable. Facing todays climate crisis, a new industrial revolution is happening in our cities. One day all buildings will be carbon neutral as part of a truly sustainable society. Until then make sure you check out our Call to Action to see the impact we can make today!

A Sustainable Food System Through Innovations

  • Approximately one half of the global population lives at sub-optimal nutritional levels
  • The most sustainable dairy and protein alternatives are now on the market
  • One startup is doubling the shelf life of fruits and vegetables
  • Vertical farms next door to grocery stores eliminate greenhouse gas emissions associated with overseas transportation
  • How the blockchain is fixing the food system

It is time to urgently focus our attention on creating a sustainable food system. Over the next few decades the global population is expected to reach 10 billion. Alarmingly, global food production is prepared to increase by an estimated 70% in that same time. The ongoing climate crisis is accelerating the need for new innovations that optimize our worlds resources. We need solutions for a sustainable food system now more than ever.

Venture capital has been slowly trickling into the industry supporting trailblazers re-thinking the way the food system works and operates. Cleantech companies creating new breakthrough solutions are increasing the distribution of food and reducing our impact on the environment by simply wasting less resources.

The current food system is embarrassingly inefficient, wasting one third of our total produce

A 2018 study from the World Economic Forum identified key technological opportunities to reduce water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and food waste. In addition to this, these technologies increase productivity and create more highly efficient pipelines in the agriculture system. The report startlingly states that there is enough food produced daily to feed the entire global population, yet nearly 1 billion people are chronically undernourished. One half of the entire population lives at sub-optimal nutrition levels. The most disturbing fact is that 1/3 of food produced is wasted, contributing 8% to global greenhouse gas emissions.

That is more than every single nations total emissions aside from China and the United States of America.

Imagine having the correct amount of money to pay your monthly bills, but burning one third of the cash while also damaging your property. Completely unsustainable and counter productive… definitely not a sign of an intelligent bunch.

Luckily, from alternative proteins to the blockchain, there are a number of sectors within the clean tech food system that are developing solutions to achieve a more ethical and sustainable planet.

Alternative proteins are revolutionizing the food system

One of the most popular and fastest growing areas of innovation in the sustainable food system is alternative proteins such as plant based protein. The current food chain is unsustainable and estimates suggest that replacing only 10-15% of our global animal protein consumption by 2030 with alternative proteins could result in a fresh water reduction of 225-400 billion cubic meters. Up to 400 million less hectares of land would be used to save 5-8% more greenhouse gas emissions. That amount of land would cover more than all of Canada’s forests combined, and if turned into forestry, that would increase the worlds total forestry 10% with just that small reduction in animal protein.

Already we have seen major successes in the alternative protein market with brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat leading the way. Notable early investors in the industry include Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio. Beyond Meat had an unexpectedly successful IPO earlier in 2019 that has seen the stock price more than double, making a bid for the most successful tech IPO of the year.

Ripple foods innovated for a more sustainable dairy food system

Creating 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than dairy milk, and 83% less than almond milk, Ripple Foods has developed a truly sustainable alternative. The incredible environmental benefits of their Ripple pea protein products compared to almond and dairy milk has them flying off the shelves. The product line is innovative yet extensive and based on the buzz around the brand it’s clear they are poised for explosive growth moving forward. Alternative dairy products are among the first foods that people try when switching to a more environmentally friendly diet. This company has captivated a large part of that audience and introduced consumers to the world of alternative proteins. (Protein shakes and flagship Ripple Milk can be ordered here.)

Insects may be the key to natural sustainable protein sources

Protix is an industry leading Dutch company that specializes in insect protein. Several insect species are raised and harvested for ethically sourced nutritional feed for livestock like poultry or salmon.  In comparison to other raised sources of protein, farming insects produces a tiny carbon footprint fit for a cricket. Today, livestock occupies 25% of earths ice free land. Reducing this number by only a few percent would equate to massive spaces freed up for better use.

AI and machine learning solutions for sustainability

There is an estimated opportunity for big data and advanced analytics for insurance to generate $70 billion of income. A creative business offering a different solution to the current food waste problem is ImpactVision. They’ve developed machine learning technologies to improve food inspection and quality control.

Using proprietary software and third-party scanners they check foods for imperfections and unique characteristics. These include things such as the freshness of a fish, bruised bananas, or the detection of foreign objects. This kind of food safety technology could allow farmers to increase production by up to 150 million tonnes.

ImpactVisions future for sustainable agriculture

ImpactVision is working on future technologies in hyperspectral imaging to give users the ability to scan produce in the supermarket with their smartphones. Customers would receive immediate feedback data such as how many days until an avocado is ripe for eating. This feature when fully developed could be revolutionary for the average consumer. Combining this with features from Google Assistant you may one day be able to plan weekly meals right down to the very last veggie.

Verigo

Another brand revolutionizing the fresh food industry is Verigo, which tackles food waste and increases food safety. They offer monitoring hardware that tracks product life, temperature and humidity of food before sending the information to the cloud. Customers can then view product status in real-time via a mobile app ensuring quality and offering high traceability and transparency. Food that was stored improperly, for example, could then be easily avoided. Verigo was recently purchased by AgroFresh (NASDAQ:AGFS) to bolster the brands suite of services focused on reducing waste both pre and post harvest. There is potential to save 35 million tonnes of food using IoT devices for real-time supply chain traceability and transparency.


Blockchain innovations could avoid an estimated 30 million tonnes of food waste

There are 30 million tonnes of food waste that could potentially be avoid with the aid of developing blockchain technologies. A pilot study launched in 2016 between IBM and Walmart demonstrated the benefits of using blockchain enabled technologies as a solution for higher traceability and transparency in the food industry. The results were exceptional. Information that would have usually taken an entire week using previous communication methods was sent in only 2.2 seconds. This allows for a big boost in detecting contaminated foods and applying selective recalls. To reduce food-borne illnesses and ultimately waste of leafy-green produce Walmart will more broadly implement the IBM blockchain technology. Nestle, Kroger, and Unilever are other major brands joining Walmart in using the tech in their supply chains and food systems.

A natural edible barrier extending the life of produce

One California startup founded by James Roger, Apeel Sciences, is fighting to fix the food system by increasing the life span of fruits and vegetable by more than double. A thin edible barrier derived from seeds and vegetables designed to create a ‘secondary’ peel that keeps moisture in and oxygen out. Apeel Avocados are currently available in Krogers, the largest grocery chain in America.

Vertical farms use almost none of our precious fresh water

Offline, urban expansion is estimated to triple in size over the next decade bringing a whole new wave of future problems as well as opportunities for our communities. The current agriculture industry uses 70-90% of our fresh water supply. This math becomes troublesome when we remember the projected population boom will result in 70% more food output. Vertical farms may offer the solution. Often built in buildings sprawling not out like a typical field, but sprouting up as if you were growing indoor giant bean stocks. 

Square Roots

Kimbal Musk is taking a somewhat minimalist approach to this method of farming with his Brooklynn incubator program Square Roots. The solution provided is to offer space inside a repurposed Brooklyn warehouse for entrepreneurs to start personal farm ventures within stacked, standard sized shipping containers. 

Vertical farms can provide an economical alternative to farming for some produce such as leafy greens, fruits and vegetables. An advantage of this system is they use very little water and typically no soil is necessary. Promising benefits of growing food in densely populated cities includes immediate access to millions with minimal shipping distances. Some types of produce may instead be grown at home, instead of overseas and thousands of miles away. The high energy used to support lights and equipment is one major drawback though. Solar and wind solutions must often accompany these farms, currently creating some barriers when repurposing current city buildings. If getting renewable power is not an issue, these city dwelling farms can be extremely efficient at utilizing space/resources. 

A sustainable farm between you and your local grocery store

It wouldn’t be unrealistic to assume some Walmart’s and Whole Food’s operating in major cities will grow some of their own produce. Bringing supply closer to stores could potentially relieve thousands of miles some fruits and vegetables travel to hit the shelves?  A short drone delivery trip from Googles Wing drone delivery startup?

The health tech industry has seen an extra $100 billion dollars invested in 18x more startups over the past 9 years than clean tech companies focused on developing a sustainable food system. That gap is closing and the ethical companies disrupting the food system in the future will be found right here! Join the Millennial Online community for weekly updates on sustainable developments creating a better future for the next generation.

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