Climate Action

Innovative Business Can Make Sustainability Easier and More Affordable

Nationally and globally, people are becoming interested in sustainability. They’re considering the sustainability of products used daily, like straws, packaging material, and toothpaste tubes. EARTHDAY.ORG has also been lending a hand in this movement. Our different campaigns, such as End Plastic Pollution, and Fashion for the Earth, aim on improving the state of different environmental concerns through arranging projects and educational opportunities. Despite the difficulty we’ve all experienced trying to become more sustainable, we should remain hopeful and keep trying, for discouragement is the enemy of progress. 

Fortunately, there are people who are invested in the movement not for its trendiness, but because they have noticed first-hand abuse faced by our planet. This abuse refers to the negative externalities of single-use plastic pollution on low-income communities, and the consequences of consuming natural resources more rapidly than the planet can handle. 

These innovators have decided to make a difference through business. Not only are these people making the modern sustainability movement stronger, they are also making it easier for us all to make these new habits stick.

This assortment of entrepreneurs have designed business models that promote the economy and address specific environmental concerns simultaneously. Some have done it through creating efficient alternatives to existing products and materials. Others have done it through developing new business models for industries that struggle with sustainability. 

For instance, the company Gjenge Makers, is an entrepreneurship that is centered around finding a use for the immense amount of plastic around the world. All plastic materials that have ever been created are still around today due to their lifespan of around 1,000 years, which means that there is a major crisis considering the massive amount of single-use plastics that are still being made. 

To combat this problem, Nzambi Matee, from Nairobi, Kenya, has invented a use for these plastics that allows urbanization to build more alternatively, affordably, and sustainably. She developed a machine that turns discarded plastic into paving stones and plastic bricks, which have been made to be more affordable and durable than the traditional brick. This type of business follows EARTHDAY.ORG’s campaign, End Plastic Pollution, through extracting pollution and expressing the benefits of utilizing more sustainable alternatives. 

The Gjenge pavers hold three times the compressive strength of traditional concrete pavers. Heavy duty concrete pavers are generally around 80mm thick, with the light duty Gjenge pavers being only 40mm in thickness. 

Therefore, this business ensures a longer life span of product while guaranteeing quality, durability, and sustainability. This now gives cities and communities the opportunity to expand and construct while inflicting fewer negative externalities on the environment. Overall, Matee’s product helps sustainability become an easier process.

Another innovative company has contributed to the investment through developing a new business model for industries that struggle with sustainability. This business, Glass Half Full, is a glass recycling company founded by two college students, Franziska Trautmann and Max Steitz, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Their goal is to locally recycle glass bottles into sand for the use of flood protection and coastline restoration. 

Glass Half Full saves recyclable glass from landfills and processes them into different colors and grinds of sand. Special colored bottles are processed separately and sold to a variety of consumers such as artists, landscape designers, or for gravel. The sand from generic colored bottles are given away for free in burlap bags for flood protection, or are used for restoring shorelines. 

Louisiana experiences severe detriments from shrinking shorelines, from their constant floods to their depleted beaches. Global supplies of sand are decreasing at a faster rate than it can recreate naturally. Shorelines and marine plant life serve as protective barriers against oceanic natural disasters, through taking the heat of large waves and causing them to diminish as they reach coastal cities. 

Through collaborating with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and with scientists from Tulane University, the founders have discovered that their sand made from glass has no harm on marine ecosystems, and that plant life is able to grow well from it, especially when mixed with natural sand.

Glass Half Full makes the transition towards alternate means of recycling glass easier for consumers in many ways. One of them being that consumers don’t worry about having to make additional effort for the transition, because they can easily subscribe to having their supply of glass picked up from their home. 

Furthermore, it removes potential increased ecological crises by accruing no additional greenhouse gas emissions. It is also less time intensive compared to the old process of recycling glass, which produces more emissions through lengthy transportation and through melting and molding old glass into new bottles.

The effort these small enterprises are making represents a step forward toward a global green economy, and can serve as an inspiration for many to join the sustainable movement –  not because it’s a popular trend, but because the sustainable future is the prosperous future.
Investing in our planet doesn’t require that you build a company focused on sustainable change, unless that is what you wish. It can mean buying stocks in sustainable companies, contributing to green political figures, volunteering for a clean-up day, signing a petition, or leading a sustainability workshop in your community. Most importantly, Investing in Our Planet means having everyone play a part in transitioning to a green sustainable economy, and creating a fundamental expansion of morality towards nature.