Reducing our carbon footprint is the need of the hour. In order to avoid the worst climate impacts, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to drop by half in the next 10 years, and eventually reach net-zero around mid-century. Net zero emission means that all man-made greenhouse gas emissions must be removed from the atmosphere through reduction measures, thus reducing the Earth’s net climate balance, after removal via natural and artificial sink, to zero. This way humankind would be carbon neutral and global temperature would stabilize. Here is a list of 4 creative companies working towards reducing our carbon footprint.
Bounce, a Bengaluru-based startup company has changed the face of urban mobility by providing cycles as a means for commutation. It is a scooter/bike rental service striving to reduce carbon footprint in the world by changing the dynamics of commutation. The company recently started its service in the Nagpur region as well. where it has been providing cycles to the commuters even before the metro service was available. Bounce cycles are available at the metro stations or on many of the squares in the city. The cycles can be used by scanning the QR code for once to reach the station, which has a GPS tracker as a safety from theft. Another version of the same series is the one that you can subscribe to on a monthly period basis. The one with QR code has a smart lock which only opens when you recharge it by scanning the QR code.
“The idea is to reduce the carbon footprint and to lessen the stress of carrying a vehicle to metro station and then catch the train” said Nikhil Bhartia a partner in Bhartia Aqua.
II. Graviky Labs
On a trip to India in 2012, Anirudh Sharma, a student of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, captured a photo of a diesel generator blowing black soot against a white wall. It made him think seriously regarding pollution, and how the burnt fossil fuel can be recycled to be used as ink for cartridges. In 2013, Sharma and a few friends “hacked” an inkjet printer cartridge to print using ink made from soot from a a candle at the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT’s Media Lab. A year later, following the completion of his master’s degree at MIT, Sharma returned to India to focus fully on developing what would become a product called AIR-INK, the first commercial ink made entirely from air pollution. It wasn’t hard to find pollution sources for experimenting. Since India still does not have ample systems in place to get rid of wastes, AIR-INK became an opportunity for them to do that so that the wastes do not end up in a landfill.
They developed a filtering device called “Kaalink” that comprised of a steel cylinder that could be affixed to an exhaust pipe. Kaalink can be scaled up to filter air pollution from just about any source and turn it into soot, which can then be hydrated to form ink to be used in AIR-INK pens and markers. Each marker holds about 30 milliliters of AIR-INK, which is equivalent to approximately 45 minutes of diesel car pollution. Sharma and his team then started a company called Graviky Labs which is stockpiling soot emitted by diesel-burning engines to recycle into black ink. The KAALINK technology harnesses one of the world’s most health-damaging particulates, known as PM 2.5. The carbon from that pollution is then transformed into a certified-safe AIR-INK pigment that can be used in pens, textiles, packaging and artwork. It has been deemed one of the best inventions of 2019 as per Time Magazine.
III. The Good Food Institute
The Good Food Institute is a global non-profit founded by Varun Deshpande. the son of a cancer surgeon from Mumbai, and someone who has been deeply immersed in healthcare and technology from a very young age. His organisation is focused on accelerating the production of plant-based and cultivated meat, eggs and dairy, in order to make way for a more sustainable, healthy and just food system. The organisation creates food which can be produced without the adverse effects of raising animal, which culminate in climate change, antibiotic resistance and food insecurity. Their objective is to initiate a change in the food system by delivering nutrients that consumers need, through food they want to eat, because of their taste, price and convenience. The organisation has partnered with academic and scientific institutions to drive innovation in their plant-based products. It also supports entrepreneurs to bring innovative products to the market and work with large corporations to launch products developed from novel sources of plant protein. Globally, companies GFI advises like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are getting plaudits from organisations like the UN because they use far less water and land and emit far less greenhouse gases to deliver the foods and nutrients which people crave. Companies in the sector have also raised billions of dollars from investors such as Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Google Ventures, and crucially, mega food corporations such as Cargill and Tyson Foods.
The GFI’s aim is to create an ecosystem that harnesses the power of food innovation and markets to offer nutrition through products that are as delicious, price-competitive and accessible as their animal counterparts. It could also be the key to feeding nearly 10 billion people by 2050, nearly a sixth of whom will be Indian.
The organisation hopes to position India as a hub for affordable and indigenous innovation in the new protein sector with the use of indigenous crops, and by tapping our thriving bio-medical and pharmaceutical sector. This year, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai to launch a Centre of Excellence in Cellular Agriculture. They have also signed a MoU with the Maharashtra Cooperative Development Corporation (MCDC) to help farmer cooperatives produce raw materials for plant-based protein companies. Additionally, they are working on creating an open-source database of affordable, novel ingredients like pulses and millets to help develop plant-protein products targeting malnutrition across all levels of the income pyramid in India.
IV. Malai Biomaterials Design Pvt Ltd
Even though leather has been used by the fashion industry in making a range of products like bags, totes and shoes, over time many of the leading fashion brands have discontinued such practices, owing to ethical reasons. Curbing such practices has been a significant step in putting an end to inflicting cruelty over animals. However, in order to sustain itself, the fashion industry needed an alternative, and that is where Malai Biometricals Design Pvt. Ltd. stepped in.
Apart from assisting the fashion industry in sustaining itself by using organic leather to make their products, Malai is also countering industrial pollution by developing bio-composite substitutes to leather. It is created by using sustainable bacterial cellulose with agricultural waste sourced from the coconut industry in Southern India.
Malai is the brainchild of Zuzana Gombosova and Susmith Suseelan. Gombsova moved from Slovakia to Mumbai for work where she met Suseelan. A material researcher and designer from Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts and Design in London, Gombsova was interested in exploring the potential of microorganisms as a resource to create sustainable alternatives. Moreover, she was particularly interested in growing and producing bacterial cellulose using coconut water. Suseelan, mechanical engineer and product designer from Kottyam in Kerala, was very intrigued by Gombosova’s research interests and immediately decided to get on board. “Susmith’s inclination stemmed from the fact that the raw material used was basically a waste product. There are multiple oil mills and coconut processing units in Kerala that could contribute to an benefit from this process. That is when we decided to begin experimenting with growing bacteria on coconut water and eventually with the material that was grown,” says Gombsova while shedding light on the chain of events that led to the inception of Malai.
Malai or the raw material that acts as the base for all the material and goods created by the label is completely biodegradable and vegan. It is a flexible, water resistant, and biocomposite material that has the look of leather and feel closer to paper. “Our production process doesn’t harm any animals, it consumes less resources in terms of energy and water during manufacturing, and uses no toxic chemicals at any stage of its production cycle,” says Gombsova.
Feature image - (L) Graviky Labs & (R) Malai Biomaterials
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