The U.S. industrial farming system has largely left natural fertilizers behind in favor of chemical-based fertilizers in the search for more efficiency and higher yields. But there’s a downside to increased productivity – chemicals strip the soil of its nutrients and damage the natural biome. Farmers have known for millennia that manure, compost and other organic matter benefit the soil. But solid organics are heavy and difficult to spread over the millions of acres of farmland that need it.
We’ve recently invested in a company with an exciting product that gets around both of these problems. Read more about California Safe Soil’s new Harvest-to-Harvest liquid fertilizer made from food waste.
We’re excited about the four investments we made in 2014, and hope that over time, these companies contribute to improving life for all of us. In keeping with our overall mission, our investments were made in companies that seek to reduce oil used in transportation, repurpose food waste and strengthen local agriculture. Here’s a rundown of these four sustainable startups poised for growth.
XL Hybrids converts existing gas-fueled commercial vehicles like cargo vans, shuttle buses and delivery trucks into hybrids. It’s a solution that can increase an entire vehicle fleet’s fuel efficiency by 20 percent, and that’s gotten the attention of companies like FedEx and Coca-Cola. The Boston-based company has gotten our attention, too. We’re excited to announce that XL Hybrids is the latest business that Sustainable America is investing in as part of our overall goal to reduce our nation’s oil consumption by 50 percent over the next two decades.
A large segment of the driving population in the United States has to idle to do their jobs properly: truckers. How can we reduce the fuel that gets wasted to refrigerate their trucks and keep their cabs warm in winter? Fortunately, there are smart and dedicated entrepreneurs out there trying to solve this problem through technology. We’re proud to announce that we’ve just made an investment in one of these companies: eNow, Inc., a Rhode Island-based clean technology company that integrates thin-film solar panels and auxiliary power management systems into long-haul and delivery trucks, reducing the need for those trucks to idle their engines to power auxiliary functions.
If you’ve been keeping up with Sustainable America, you know that we believe in the power of entrepreneurs and markets to effect positive change, and that we make early-stage investments to help spur the development of sustainable food and fuel businesses. Local and sustainable agriculture is one of our focus areas, and we’ve made a small investment in the Conservation Capital Fund that we’re excited about.
For Earth Day this year, we Sustainable America staff members challenged ourselves to work on ways to be greener in our everyday lives. First up is Gray, our director of investments, who said he was going to grow food in containers and compost at home. Here’s how he did…
If you’ve been keeping up with Sustainable America, you know that we’re on a mission to divert food waste from landfills and repurpose it into sustainable, value-added products like compost. We’re happy to report that we’ve closed our first compost-related investment in an exciting young company that does just that: EcoScraps. The Utah-based business collects fruit and vegetable scraps from grocery stores and wholesale produce providers and turns it into nutrient-rich, organic garden products like compost, potting mix and natural fertilizer. The EcoScraps line is sold in some of the same stores that supply the scraps, creating a tidy, full-circle process.
As a high school health and PE teacher for the past 16 years, Stephanie Peckham has heard a lot of interesting stories and questions from her students. Questions run the gamut, with curious and not-yet-worldly students seeking answers about alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, to awkward birds and bees questions. But with the surge in childhood obesity and diabetes, Stephanie has found herself in the figurative epicenter of a battle to educate this generation of young Americans about the critical importance of eating healthy.
“Waste-to-value” is a great buzzword and even better concept. It cuts right to the core of what we really need in society today – practical means of taking the waste we generate and repurposing it, profitably if possible, into things we need.
If you’ve been following Sustainable America’s evolution over the last two years, you know that part of our philosophy is that investing in entrepreneurs and startups is an effective way to help increase the sustainability of our food and fuel systems. What you might not know is how we do it, and what some of our criteria are for making these investments.