Sustainable Start-ups Making a Difference

With the rise of green investing, the global market, and the general surge of entrepreneurial spirit, sustainable start-ups are emerging all over the world. Cutting-edge technology in the energy and food and fashion sectors has produced innovative, sustainable, user-friendly products and services that combat some of the largest environmental problems we face today, like greenhouse gas emissions and plastic pollution. Below is a brief overview of sustainable start-ups that are transforming our daily lives to protect the planet and provide a cleaner, brighter future.


Coined as the modern milkman, Loop is a new company changing the landscape of single-use plastics.  Household brands like Dove, Febreze, and Haagen-Dazs are teaming up with Loop to eliminate waste while continuing to deliver products the average consumer uses on a daily basis. Customers simply pick the products they want, and Loop delivers the products in reusable containers. When the customer needs a refill, they leave it in a Loop tote bag for UPS to pick up and return to Loop. With plastic being found at the deepest point explored in the ocean, it is time for our world to shift away from the extreme waste of single-use plastics and embrace the "circular shopping platform" of Loop. Register here to join the waitlist for Loop’s Spring 2019 launch in the US and France!


Freight Farms

As the climate changes, our food supply changes drastically. Severe droughts and extreme flooding can wipe out fields of crops, potentially increasing global food insecurity and malnutrition. Freight Farms' Leafy Green Machine is a 40-foot shipping container revamped to produce hearty greens like kale and spinach with the power of hydroponics and climate control. These shipping containers use 90% less water than traditional farms, and also reduce the carbon impact of food transportation. The company also emphasizes that any person or organization can run a Leafy Green Machine, as each container has automated features that control the climate and life-cycle of the crop. The Leafy Green Machine is not only a solution to the world’s changing food supply, but also can help alleviate food deserts, bring communities together, and bolster local economies.


Callida Energy

In the US, buildings account for about 70% of electricity consumed and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions; however, about 30% of that energy is wasted. NYC based Callida Energy was founded in 2013 with the goal of optimizing energy usages to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Using real-time data from building occupants, Callida's learning software learns occupancy patterns to set realistic schedules for heating and cooling, as opposed to constantly heating or cooling buildings even if no one is inside. Callida’s platform not only reduces energy use and costs, but also makes the workplace more comfortable for employees.


Impossible Foods  

In 2013, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that about 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the livestock sector annually. Beyond the monumental carbon dioxide and methane emissions produced from animal agriculture, this sector also uses almost 16% of global freshwater, as well as a third of the world’s grain production. Thus, cutting down on meat consumption is a simple step individuals can take to decrease their carbon footprint. Impossible Foods’ “meat” is a completely plant-based solution for vegans and non-vegans alike, offering the “flavor, aroma and beefiness of meat from cows” without the actual meat. Eating just one Impossible burger, as opposed to a regular burger, saves 75 square feet of land, 1 half bathtub of water, and 18 miles worth of emissions from a car. These burgers can be found in restaurants and grocery stores across the country; check here to find one near you!


Girlfriend Collective

Taiwan was referred to as “garbage island”; with increasing consumption rates and almost no recycling infrastructure, by the mid 1990’s almost two-thirds of the island’s landfills were full. In response to this suffocation of trash, the government implemented new waste and recycling processes, creating more recyclable waste than non-recyclable. The Seattle based Girlfriend Collective company works with the Taiwanese government to create leggings out of recycled water bottles; each pair of Compressive leggings uses 25 post-consumer plastic bottles, saves 3.11 gallons of water, and prevents 18.61 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted. Beyond their focus of reducing environmental impacts within the fashion industry, Girlfriend Collective also fosters a safe work environment in their factory in Vietnam by paying their employees above the local living wage, providing free lunch and dinner, and ensuring healthcare and health check-ins every six months.


- Lily Lee

Clean Consulting UCLA