Updated: Dec 1, 2020
It has long been known that climate change is one of the most pressing issues our society will have to overcome. Yet, it seems as though industry leaders are oblivious about this, or instead too absorbed in maximizing their incomes to care. From fashion to food, almost all of our global industries are lacking when it comes to sustainability.
Nevertheless, there are still some pioneers who are stepping up and doing their part in our battle against climate change - technology enterprises.
Unlike the vast majority of modern day businesses, the oldest high tech companies have been around for less than fifty years. When compared to the fashion industry, which has existed for hundreds of years, tech is still incredibly new. From the water industry to energy production, technology companies are teaming up with other leading industries to solve the world's most pressing issues by innovating to create software and devices, critical to saving our planet.
In the United States, three times more food is wasted than it would take to feed every single hungry person. Food production is crucial to supporting life on Earth, but it has many downsides that could be significantly decreased if less food were to be wasted. Researchers at Our World in Data estimate, food production accounts for twenty-six percent of our global greenhouse gas emissions annually. If we eliminated food waste, we would be able to cut down to twenty percent, lowering our total greenhouse gas emissions by six percent. Here are three tech companies using unique approaches to address our food waste problem.
NanoPack, an EU funded project, is using nanotechnology to tackle the food waste epidemic. NanoPack uses high-tech packaging to film microbial growth in produce, ensuring food safety. NanoPack’s packaging monitors and interacts with food, incorporating antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds to make sure food stays fresh for longer, in turn reducing food waste.
Copia is an online platform that allows restaurants to redistribute leftover food by connecting them to food banks, shelters, and nonprofit organizations. By utilizing its state of the art software and the billions of pounds of food that are wasted each year, Copia is able to feed the hungry, and in doing so, enable restaurants to give back to their communities.
Too Good To Go is a Danish company launched in 2015, whose app allows vendors such as restaurants and cafes to sell off leftover food from the day at a marked-down price. Restaurants can sell food that would have otherwise been wasted while at the same time attracting new customers to try out their food. Consumers have access to delicious food, costing a quarter of its original price while helping out in the battle against food waste.
National Geographic estimates that eighty percent of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels. This is even more alarming when we realize that the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for seventy-six percent of our annual greenhouse gas emissions. Still, energy production and use are incredibly crucial when it comes to keeping modern society functioning. The following companies are revolutionizing the energy industry, from production to consumption, leading us towards a greener future.
General Electric, a leader in the energy industry, is utilizing the same heat pump technology that keeps your house warm to dry clothes. By using a heat pump cycle to generate hot air, they can produce a more efficient dryer that has proven to lower energy consumption by sixty percent when compared to other dryers on the market.
Solstice’s mission is “To put affordable, clean energy within reach of every American”, and they’re doing precisely that. Solstice creates and develops solar infrastructures within communities, allowing entire cities and towns to access solar energy rather than just one household (like with solar panels). By combining technology and state of the art infrastructure, Solstice is paving the way to a future where all Americans have access to sustainable energy.
Green Outlet is an app that allows users to monitor their energy usage without having to attach monitors to energy meters, which can be time-consuming and in some cases expensive. The app calculates how much you can expect to spend on your energy bill, along with how much energy you’re consuming each month based on where you live, how big your house is, and what/ how many appliances you have. By first understanding where you’re using lots of energy, it is much easier to begin taking steps towards reducing your energy consumption, as well as saving money on your energy bill.
Access to clean drinking water is essential to human survival, so much that the UN considers it a fundamental human right. Our World in Data estimates, only seventy-one percent of the world has access to clean drinking water. That means a concerning twenty-nine percent of the world is left without a necessity to life. With global warming on the rise, drier conditions in certain parts of the world will severely impact the water and agricultural supplies of many communities. Once again, technology is here to save the day.
The Drinkable Book was created by the nonprofit, Water is Life, in partnership with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Using water filtration technology, the paper on which the book is printed serves as a filter that can be used to purify water. Each page of the Drinkable Book contains basic water and sanitation advice, along with instructions on how to use the filtration paper. Each book provides clean water for up to four years to a person in need.
The LifeStraw is a portable drinking straw aiming to create a healthier and more sustainable world. The straw filters contaminated water, making it safe to drink by removing practically all bacteria and parasites with its innovative filtration system.
In most parts of the world, the problem isn’t that there is too little water, but rather that the water is contaminated, and communities are lacking adequate technology to filter it. Innovative Water Technologies recognized this and created a water filtration system called Sun Spring Hybrid, - a self-contained portable wind and solar-powered system that provides thousands of liters of clean water per day to communities in need for over ten years.
The technology of the twenty-first century has the capability to solve many of our world's most pressing issues, and ultimately transform society as we know it. High-tech solutions to the world's oldest problems are all around us, - we just have to put our minds together, then the possibilities are endless. Sustainability is the latest trend in tech, and it’s here to stay. From water filtration technology allowing books to serve as water filters, to apps, enabling restaurants to connect with food banks to feed the hungry, technology is paving the way to a future fueled by sustainable business and ideas. Sustainability is the future of tech, and it has to be the future of the world as well; there’s no other way.