WWF recently released a new report ‘Green game-changers’ looking at 50 innnovations to inspire business to change. Our 6heads’ goal is to share learning on innovation and sustainability, and this report certainly seems to aim in a similar direction. WWF has also created a ‘bank‘ of game-changing innovations where new examples are welcomed.
It highlights four types of innovations:
– Dematerializing: those that reduce the use and consumption of natural resources
– Restorative: those that have a positive environmental impact (e.g. restoration of forests)
– Open Loop: those where a company’s waste is turned into a resource
– Renewable energy: those relating to the use of renewable energy and helping achieve a low carbon future
To select the 50 examples featured in the report, WWF applied strict screening criteria which looks at its sustainability credentials but also as its potential to be change the game – that is looking at whether an innovation is scaleable, lasting or different. In essence, being different is similar to my definition of a radical innovation – one that completely breaks away from existing ways of doing business. Scaleable and lasting innovation should be commercially viable and have a lasting impact and shelf life.
Here is a little taster from each category:
– Dematerliazing – NeighborGoods: a website where neighbours ‘save money, save resources and strengthen your community’ by lending each other anything they want. These types of ideas have been discussed for a while and increasingly emerging in different forms (like the Boris Bike scheme or StreetCar). These types of sharing platforms make sense as they are extremely easy to set up and scale up. See Rachel Botsman’s TED talk for on the business case for collaborative consumption.
– Restorative – Biochar: burning organic waste without oxygen to create a charred organic material which acts as a fertilizer thereby improving soil fertility. It is also said to act as a carbon store (though more research is needed on its potential).
– Open Loop – Worn Again: a UK brand which upcycles clothes and which has designed uniforms made from recycled materials for McDonald’s and Eurostar. Another example (though one which does not appear in the report) is Patagonia, the famous outdoor clothing brand which offers its customers a free repair service and provides a reselling/recycling platform via its stores. Unconventionally, the brand also encourages its customers to buy less but does not seem to have reduced sales as a result (see the latest Guardian article for more detail).
-Renewable Energy – Solar energy kiosks: providing off-grid solar energy to rural villages in developing countries. One such organization is e.quinox – an initiative run entirely by students and started by fellow Imperial College students.
With sustainability being so large and all-encompassing, it is imperative that learning is shared as it is impossible for one individual or organization to have all the answers. Showcasing examples of innovative and sustainable businesses not only enables us (and business) to learn about different aspects of sustainability, it also encourages a connected mind (see why this is important in a previous post) and inspires other businesses to follow in the same direction.
We’ll also be showcasing innovative companies and ideas at our 6heads event and are very interested in learning about other initiatives so please comment or bring your examples along on the 28th!