Written by Katelyn Milligan
We all live in a world of consumption, but we can make it better through mindful sustainable practices in the social, economic, and environmental landscape. The good news is there are many eco-conscious businesses that are taking action to accomplish this.
Imagine living in Barent Sea, a small community above the arctic circle based on rich, clean, life-sustainable water where the green from the aurora lights up the sky… and finding plastic waste washing ashore.
This is exactly what happened to Frank Cato Lahti the, founder of Othalo. Instead of being discouraged by the overwhelming plastic waste that is plaguing the world, he was motivated to develop technology that would both tackle the housing deficiency problem in the developing world by manufacturing buildings using the billions of tons of recycled plastic waste.
You are correct in thinking both of those are steep issues to tackle, but Frank is determined to help. He has traveled around the world, and he has seen the dire need for safe, secure, and affordable housing globally such as in Sub-Saharan Africa and India.
Local empowerment is one of the motivations behind Othalo. His patent pending technology to mass produce easy to build, low cost living environments uses 75% of all plastic waste as raw material for building material (recycled household plastics and industrial plastic waste). Plastic waste is shredded and mixed with other elements to produce walls, floors, and roods. A 60 square meter home would use 8 tons of recycled plastic waste.
Creating a secure living environment is a step toward pulling people out of poverty and increasing self-esteem, which is important for intrinsic motivation that advances communities forward in safety and security. His technology also will create local jobs and employ corporate social responsibility by ensuring health programs for the employees and reaching out to include female workers.
The Roman Goddess of Agriculture Ceres would be proud of the company that has borrowed her moniker, Ceres Greenhouse Solutions. Founded in 2011 by Marc Plinke, Ceres was created with the intention of helping people grow their own food, with full capacity and no wasted space, sustainably and year-round.
Marc used his engineering background and expertise to build better and more energy-efficient hot greenhouses to allow fresh food to be produced all year long without the detrimental use of fossil fuels.
Food distribution is not equal. There are many food deserts in both urban and rural areas. In cities, often low-income areas have poor access to vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods. In rural areas where people grow food often don’t have access to it themselves because they have to sell it or natural resources like soil become depleted.
“Greenhouses can help with that. There are many, many non-profits these days that help build greenhouses in inner cities or in areas that need food and can grow it themselves.” — Marc
Ceres Greenhouse solutions use passive solar design principles with innovative heat-storage techniques to create energy-efficient greenhouses. They regulate their own temperature, can grow year-round, and use little to no fossil fuel energy. They are also designed to be durable and withstand harsh weather, with greenhouses in Alaska to South Africa. They are also designed to be helpful for any user, such as backyard gardeners, sustainable farmers, school administrators, orbig industrial growers.
Ceres certainly follows in the footsteps of Roman Goddess Ceres by bringing the gift of harvest and agricultural practices to people who need it. For more information about greenhouse solutions and Ceres, listen to our in-depth podcast with founder Marc and Miriam Schaffer, Marketing / Communications Specialist.
Dandelion Energy creates earth powered heating for every home in an attempt to make renewable technologies more accessible and reduce climate change. Mindful Businesses interviewed Kathy Hannun, cofounder and president, to learn more.
Their systems use geothermal energy, which is not only the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way to heat and cool a home but also the cheapest system to run. Historically, it is the most expensive to install upfront which is the problem Dandelion Energy is trying to solve. Typically, homeowners don’t want to take on a complex construction problem. So, Dandelion Energy takes on that complexity. They do a full design with calculations custom to the space, drill, and connect the system.
Most homes in the United States still use fossil fuel based heating equipment like furnaces or boilers, traditional air conditioners, and fossil fuel based water heaters. Space heating, air conditioning, and water heating contribute to about 70% of energy use in home, according to the EIA. Traditional fuel oil and central AC units contribute 21,350 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere a year, but a Dandelion Geothermal system reduces 16,850 pounds of CO2 of that a year. This means that replacing old equipment with geothermal heating and cooling can reduce a home’s CO2 emissions by up to 80%.
A Dandelion geothermal system has an expected lifespan of 20–25 years which would reduce 421,250 pounds of CO2, which is equivalent to removing 39 cars from the road for an entire year.
Did you know that kerosene lighting is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day? Kerosene lighting is often used in places like Africa where about half of the continent does not have access to electricity. This means millions of people don’t have internet access, the ability to charge a mobile phone, access to radio and TV, and light.
Solar Panda is working to fix that by leading an affordable solar energy revolution. Started in 2016 with the mission of transforming people’s lives through access to electricity, Solar Panda works to give households access to solar energy. They primarily operate in Kenya where 25% of the population doesn’t have access to electricity.
Their work positively impacts people by facilitating their ability to study, work, and play — without the health consequences of kerosene. Eliminating kerosene especially benefits women and children who spend more time inside.
In our podcast episode, founder Brett Bergmann said, “I got to meet some of our customers that had light for the first time and it was truly one of the most remarkable days of my life. … After meeting a father, he said, “I don’t have to worry about my children breathing in kerosene fumes.”
Connecting to the electric grid is expensive and difficult to install in rural areas like Sub-Saharan Africa, but ultimately it opens up access to the world, improves security, increases jobs, aids children’s education, and reduces health risks related to toxins or fire.
Geoship is using regenerative architecture to form a homebuilding cooperative that builds bioceramic domes. Their domes combine both a fundamental form in nature and innovative building material.
The geodesic dome structure comes from Buckminster Fuller, an American Inventor and Futurist Architect who created geodesic dome geometry with wood in the 1960s and 70s. Geodesic domes appear throughout nature and are the strongest means of enclosing a space. Many old civilizations used dome housing compared to the modern box shape.
Geoship has combined Fuller’s vision with Material Science professor Rustum Roy’s bioceramic crystal chemistry to create a strong, environmentally focused building material. Unlike others who are in the same business, founder Morgan Bierschenk told the podcast that Geoship’s bioceramic domes are geared toward being a permanent fixture by being engineered to last for 500 years. Bioceramic domes have many uses, including a tiny home, add-on, or small community.
The domes are 100% non-toxic and zero carbon. The embodied CO2 in a bioceramic dome uses about 30 times less carbon than a conventional wood house. It bypasses the traditional need of a slab foundation and can be transported and assembled in 3 days.
Mindful Businesses podcast has in-depth episodes about these five environmentally sustainable brands working within the sphere of innovative structures. For more eco-friendly businesses producing sustainable products and practices, check out our weekly podcast.