One of the greatest challenges facing businesses is to find ways to reduce their climate impact, reduce harmful emission & pollutants & yet still remain financially viable.
Millions of companies across the globe have taken up the climate action torch & are reducing emissions & waste & finding ways to be more sustainable & reduce their impact on dwindling biodiversity.
However, there are a new breed of entrepreneurs who are generating new business models which are sustainable & make a positive impact from their inception, whilst also making a profit. These climate conscious entrepreneurs are known as Ecopreneurs.
Freight Farms was started in 2010 by Ecopreneurs Brad McNamara & Jon Friedman with a brand of rooftop greenhouses. They quickly saw a gap in the food production sector & quickly realised that to meet their goals they would need to invest in a more modular & scalable solution.
Brad & Jon considered the idea that shipping containers might be a viable option to build their new technology inside. Shipping containers being readily available, also offered the options for farms to exist in areas traditional farming could not support traditional agriculture.
Thus Freight Farms was born. In 2010 with no form of agriculture tech industry already established, Brad & Jon realised quickly they had created something ahead of it’s time . Freight Farms were emerging as one of the first leading Ag Tech companies & by 2019 they had launched ‘Greenery’, the first hydroponics farm built inside a shipping container.
With the need for sustainable food for an ever growing planetary population part of the ongoing battle against the impact of climate change; the ‘Greenery’ offers farming solutions on so very many levels. Not only can the ‘Greenery’ be installed where space is of a premium, but it can also be stacked to optimise productivity.
Furthermore, the options for countries affected by climate change weather extremes which are perpetually disrupting biodiversity & impacting on the land; the ‘Greenery’ can also be installed in arid deserts & where extreme weather is destroying crops.
Since 2016 Freight Farms has worked with 34 countries & international farmers to help develop reliable food sources. Freight Farms ‘Greenery S’ hydroponic system is closed-loop & extremely water-efficient using only 5 gallons of water per day to support over 13,000 plants. (1)
A couple of examples of the yield from the ‘Greenery S’ are:
Kale – Weekly yield – 171 lbs
Basil – Weekly yield – 124 lbs
Bok Choi – Weekly yield – 204 lbs
Romaine Lettuce – 3 week schedule – 1450 heads (1)
Freight Farms mission is based on the ethos that “healthy food is a right, not a luxury” & their farmers relying on “container farms as a source of high-quality and sustainable produce, 365 days a year. “ (1)
Brad McNamara & Jon Friedman – Ecoproneurs – have developed a system which is not only sustainable & economically viable; but also provides an essential solution for the ongoing pressures of being able to feed the inhabitants of planet earth, as the population continues to grow & be impacted by climate change.
Jeremiah Thoronka is the Ecopreneur responsible for start-up Optim Energy, an energy solution based on the kinetic movement of human movement.
Having been brought up in poverty Sierra Leone with only his mother to support him, the family would rely on charcoal & firewood for heating, cooking & lighting. In Sierra Leone, at least 89% of the population is without electricity or gas. The slum where Jeremiah grew up did not have access to energy or electricity, creating considerable restrictions on the neighbour to develop & thrive.
At aged 10 years old, Jeremiah having won a scholarship to attend one of the best school in the region, realised all too quickly how being at school & having access to energy & electricity transformed his learning experience. However, at the end of each day travelling back into the slum, he began to realise the effects of energy poverty.
Children in the slum would often suffer from respiratory illnesses due to smoke & oil inhalation & their schooling was affected by the lack of light to read by.
With local forest being destroyed as the local inhabitants sourced firewood for heating & light, the environmental degradation left Sierra Leone vulnerable to the ongoing affects of advancing climate change.
According to the UN-backed organisation Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), just 26% of the population have access to electricity. In rural areas, only 6% of people have electricity and most people rely on solar lanterns and dry-cell batteries as they cannot connect to the national grid. (2)
While studying at University, Jeremiah grew more concerned about the impact of energy poverty on his community. This lead him at just 17 to create a start-up, Optim Energy. Jeremiah developed a piezoelectric device that harnesses energy from heat, movement & pressure – all which occur naturally in the environment. (2)
When the device is placed under a road, in an area with a lot of traffic and passers-by, it absorbs the vibrations they create and uses them to generate an electric current. As nothing is being burned, no emissions are released in the process. (BBC)
“The Sun is not always shining, water is drying up, fossil fuels are not always going to be used, but people are always moving,” says Thoronka. (2)
When Optim energy was first installed in Jeremiah’s local area of Kuntolah using two of his devices, Optim Energy was able to provide power free of charge to 150 households (1500 people) & 15 schools (9000 students)
“The start-up’s use of piezoelectric technology to generate clean, affordable energy, and smart digital communication demonstrates an impressive display of innovation, creativity and thought leadership,” says Snober Abbasi, a Commonwealth spokesperson.
“Optim Energy offers an unprecedented opportunity to both tackle growing environmental and economic issues, and move the energy sector to an era of efficiency and reliability if it continues to scale.” (2)
Written & cited by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2