The UN Climate Conference in Paris is happening as we speak, and we’re all waiting with bated breath for the end results. The first day was already one of good news, with India launching a new solar alliance of over 120 countries to bring clean energy to everyone’s reach. While we can’t all pledge billions to save our planet, we can start from the ground up, changing one tiny aspect of our lives at a time. As the work of these Nordic startups demonstrates, every little helps!
Collecting Waste Without Wasting Energy
Finnish company Enevo, established in 2010, manufactures tiny, battery-operated wireless sensors, which are creating huge energy savings in urban waste collection. These sensors measure and predict how full waste containers are, using the information to generate optimised routes and schedules for collection trucks. While Enevo claims that this provides up to 50% in direct cost savings, the reduction in mileage also means considerably less CO2 emissions. Happy customers, happy planet!
Encouraging Electric Vehicles
Norwegian Meshcrafts wants to remove the obstacles for switching to electric cars, not just in Norway but all around the globe. Its founder, Asmund Moll, was disheartened by how difficult it was to find charging points for electric vehicles compared to traditional petrol stations. That’s what Meshcrafts aims to change, by enabling everyone to sell electricity to others from their own charging points at their chosen price – the same way as people can rent out their houses out on Airbnb. The result? Hopefully, a steadily growing number of non-polluting cars on our streets.
Sharing Donkey Rides – whoops, we meant bike rides
This is another Airbnb clone, but for bicycles. AirDonkey connects wannabe bike riders and bicycle owners via a smartphone, an app, and GPS. Those who want to hire out their bike get a Bluetooth-enabled lock, which users open with their phone once they’ve reserved and paid for the bike through the app. The lock is rechargeable, too, for extra planet saving points! The company behind AirDonkey, Donkey Republic, has started out in Copenhagen, one of Europe’s most bike-friendly cities, so it’s got more than a fair chance of success. The environment’s got its fingers crossed, too.
Making Cutting Waste into Cutting Edge Fashion
A firm favourite of the Helsinki start-up scene, Pure Waste created the official gear for last month’s Slush Conference in Helsinki. Armed with t-shirts, hoodies and sweaters, the company is making a difference to the world’s second most polluting industry – fashion. Their 100% recycled garments are made of cutting waste, which makes up 15% of all the fabric used in clothes manufacturing. This saves 38.5 billion litres of water every year, which would otherwise be needed for cotton irrigation. On a bigger scale, this means fewer pesticides, cleaner rivers and ultimately, a cooler planet too.
Harnessing the Sun in Developing Regions
As creative writers, we must say we love Norwegian Bright Products’s slogan, "A world where people see new possibilities." Since they launched their SunBell and SunTurtle solar LED lamps (which, by they way, were fully deserving of their Red Dot design award) in May last year, they have provided 300.000 solar lamps to 2 million people around the world. While delivering light in an ecologically sound way to people without electricity in Africa, Asia and South America, they reduce the need for using energy-guzzling all gasoline generators.
Helping Stop Food Waste
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, about a third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Just think of all the unnecessary emissions created to produce and transport all that. Finnish tech-venture Foller, the winner of an innovation award at Slush Helsinki this year, aims to put an end to this by encouraging the sales of food close to its sell-by date. Their solution is based on RFID tags that monitor products on the shelf of a shop or cafe. If something isn’t selling and is likely to go to waste, its price automatically goes down, and it’s more likely to be bought. Economical and ecological: one of our favourite combinations.
Gamifying Energy Behaviour
Do you find monitoring your household energy consumption electrifying? Well, nor do we. But award-winning Swedish startup Greenely might just change all that with its app, which promises to gamify our energy use experience. By downloading the app, which collects information about your energy use and crushes it through a complex algorithm, you don’t just get tips and tricks for better energy efficiency, but you can also compete against your neighbours. How’s that for an incentive to go greener? And if that’s not enough, you should also save at least 10% of your energy bill in the process.
We have signed the petitions, turned our lights off on Earth Day and recycled our organic waste, so it’s encouraging to know we’re not alone in our efforts. These companies may still be small today, but their ideas are big enough to create a huge impact tomorrow. What better time to celebrate them than right now, when our planet’s future is decided upon in Paris.