Tag Archives: investing

Stony Creek Colors: A Seed-to-Jeans Story

Stony Creek Colors makes indigo dye for denim in the USA by sourcing natural indigo from farmers in the South

If something can be said to be more American than apple pie, it’s probably blue jeans. Unfortunately, the trademark denim blue color has become dependent upon toxic chemical processes. Natural indigo, the original plant source of that famous blue jean color, has been almost entirely forgotten in the textile supply chain. Stony Creek Colors, our latest investment, is working to bring back natural, American-made indigo dyes and give farmers needed opportunities to grow new, sustainable crops.

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How the Moringa Tree Could Improve Nutrition Worldwide

After moringa leaves are harvested, they are dried and ground.

Lisa Curtis first encountered moringa as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger when a local woman suggested she eat the tree’s leaves to combat fatigue caused by her vegetarian diet. Soon she felt better and became an advocate for the nutritional power of moringa, a drought-tolerant tree that has provided food around the world for thousands of years. Read how Curtis’ company Kuli Kuli, our latest investment, is creating an market for moringa to improve nutrition and livelihoods of women farmers in the developing world.

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Making Impact Investing More Accessible for Everyone

Seedling

Photo: Emma Cooper via Flickr

Whether it’s called impact investing, socially responsible investing or sustainable investing, interest in making investments that support positive change is growing. Sustainable mutual funds represented $6.5 trillion at the beginning of 2014, an increase of 76 percent since 2012. Brian Kaminer wants to see this still-young investing space grow even more, so he’s designed a way to help investors of all types get involved.

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2014 in Review: A Message From Our Executive Director

The problem is clear: Two of the top three expenses for most Americans are food and fuel, even despite today’s lower gas prices. Our current food and fuel systems are tightly interconnected and unsustainable. Sustainable America’s mission is to tackle these issues by helping to reduce America’s oil consumption by 50 percent and increase food availability by 50 percent over the next two decades. Here are a few highlights of our organization’s accomplishments and milestones that made a difference in 2014.

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Investing: 2014 Was an Impactful Year

Sustainable America's 2014 Investments

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.

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An Investment in Organic Farmland

Chickens grazing on pasture at a Farmland LP farm

Chickens graze on a pasture at one of Farmland LP's farms.

A road trip to Oregon farmland crystalized a new business idea for partners Craig Wichner and Jason Bradford. “It was very clear farmland was a great asset and that it was basically being underutilized,” says Wichner, “that growing monocrops was operationally efficient, but it was the worst way to get returns from farmland itself.” With investment and the use of sustainable agriculture templates, they developed Farmland LP, a system of livestock, vegetable and grain rotations that could both reclaim land for organic farming and turn a profit.

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Our Latest Investment: XL Hybrids

Sustainable America's XL Hybrid cargo van gets 20% better gas mileage than a regular cargo van.

Our XL Hybrid cargo van gets 20% better gas mileage than a regular cargo van.

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.

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Our Latest Investment: eNow

eNow solar panels for trucks

eNow's solar panels help trucks power auxiliary functions without wasting fuel.

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.

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Why We’re Investing in Sustainable Ranching

Cold Creek Ranch

Conservation Capital Fund has a pilot project ongoing at Cold Creek Ranch to purchase land and install new ranchers.

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.

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EcoScraps: Sowing Success from Wasted Food

EcoScraps organic gardening products are sold at major garden retailers throughout the country

EcoScraps organic gardening products are sold at major garden centers like Home Depot, Target, Walmart and Lowe’s.

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.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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