Sustainable Start-ups: a rising trend
To protect the environment and promote social inclusion are the goals of the increasingly numerous innovative projects that are committed to sustainability.
Bring products to our mouth that are healthy both for us and for the environment. Use plastics that, instead of being polluting, respect the environment. Access tools that improve the lives of those who need it most from the smartphone. Beyond developing innovative technology, some entrepreneurs in Spain are making these and other actions possible by promoting projects born with a focus on sustainability.
After all, we are increasingly aware of the need to protect everything around us, and the sustainable ideas created on home soil are doing their bit to make the planet a better place for everyone.
Better eating (for us and for the environment)
Eating fruit and vegetables grown without causing harm to the environment is a concern that more citizens increasingly share. This is why some initiatives seek to answer this concern by promoting sustainable agriculture.
In fact, farmers can already use fertilizers with microorganisms from earthworm humus to avoid excessive use of chemicals and promote healthier crops. Behind this novel idea to transform traditional agriculture is Enrique Cat, recently selected as one of the 30 talents under 30 years of age by the Forbes Summit Spain.
In addition to this project, users have many other options to bring healthy foods to our table, either thanks to a network of farmers throughout Spain created to offer the best fruit and vegetables or by purchasing a wide variety of organic products. There are several e-commerces born in these parts that encourage us to eat better by offering products that benefit both our body and the environment in which they grew.
Promoting renewables or creating respectful plastics
In addition to worrying about the effects that agriculture has on the environment, we all know that some resources of nature are limited and we are increasingly aware of the need that our way of life should not end with them.
This is why other projects focus their efforts precisely on pampering the environment through the use of renewable energy sources. In fact, thanks to some start-ups citizens can already enjoy electricity produced exclusively from them to charge our smartphone or the other electronic devices in our home without damaging the planet.
The interest in finding alternative sources of energy is such that the Spanish sustainable fabric grows unceasingly to achieve it. Proof of this is the case of Gonzalo Murillo, one of the Spanish innovators under 35 years of the MIT Technology Review last year after developing a microchip that allows the energy of the environment to be harnessed to feed the sensors of the Internet of the things without the need to resort to batteries. It is thus demonstrated that the use of new technological devices does not have to lead to higher energy consumption.
But sustainability does not only involve resorting to clean energy, but also implies that citizens should try to reduce the impact of the rest of our activities, for example by using materials that are reintegrated into nature. This is why the biotechnologist and environmental engineer Patricia Aymá is working on a project that aims to develop plastics from organic waste, which respect the environment.
While the plastics used today take decades to degrade, the product designed by Aymá, recently awarded with first prize of the VII Santander YUZZ National Meeting, uses bacteria capable of generating a biodegradable plastic in a short time.
However, when it comes to living a life more respectful of our environment on a daily basis, we must all carry out sustainable actions on a regular basis. Being aware of this, Santiago Jiménez and Carlos Rosety, students of architecture and engineering, respectively, from the Carlos III University of Madrid, have created an original application to encourage us to achieve it.
Through a system of rewards, users find incentives that help us recycle or use our bicycles to move around instead of resorting to polluting vehicles. We can all do something to change the world, and this app drives us.
Tools to help others
The faces of sustainability do not only have to do with how we relate to the planet Earth. In fact, serving the sectors of population that are generally forgotten is also a way to improve the world. There are a few Spanish projects that have focused on social sustainability to help these citizens.
Without going any further, another application born in collaboration with the Carlos III University of Madrid aims to ensure that everyone can access the big screen equally. Its name is Whatscine and thanks to it, people with visual or hearing disabilities have three accessibility systems (audio description, sign language and adapted subtitles) to improve their experience when they sit in a cinema or their living room, since it also integrates with television.
Meanwhile, the blind can also find help in other apps, such as Lazzus. This tool provides them with auditory information to reach a certain destination, by describing all the details of the path they must go along to get there.
Furthermore, in recent years the elderly have also been able to benefit from the service provided by other innovative projects. The list is long: Cuideo, Cuidum, Familiados or Joyners are just some of the options available to family members when it comes to finding a professional caregiver to look after the elderly in their home simply through their website.
There are also other vulnerable groups who have become the main concern of some projects created in Spain; projects that work for social sustainability by promoting social inclusion in their own staff.
Deliberry, the food delivery company, is a good example of this, as it has mum shoppers, expert shoppers who go to the supermarkets and select the best products for the user. Generally, they are women of over 45 with problems finding a job, for whom the company has reached an agreement with a Caritas programme. Something similar is done by Koiki, a social entrepreneurship project that also offers distribution services focusing on distributors with intellectual or physical disabilities and the long-term unemployed.
These are just some of the increasingly numerous start-ups in Spain that, instead of just offering a product or service, are promoting innovative ecological and social initiatives to contribute to global sustainability and make the planet a better place for all.