Tag Archives: Sustainable America investments

A Smart Solution for Truck Idling

Trucks at night at a truckstop

Photo: Todd Lappinvia Flickr

Like most good innovations, Idle Smart’s automated idling management solution for trucks began with someone thinking, there’s got to be a better way. In this case, that person was a truck mechanic in Kansas, who realized a lot of the problems he was fixing were caused by the amount of idling trucks were doing while on the job. Functions like keeping cabin temperatures comfortable for drivers overnight or engines from freezing in cold weather are necessary to keeping trucks on the road, but idling engines cause wear and tear — and costs money in fuel and maintenance. Learn more about this smart solutions to truck riding…

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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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2015 Year-End Review: A Year of Ingenuity

Sustainable America

One of the most popular movies of 2015 was The Martian, a story of an astronaut, stranded on Mars, who uses ingenuity to grow food in poor Martian soil, capture solar energy to extend the distance he can travel in rovers, and communicate with the public on Earth. This captivating movie has a lot in common with the year we had at Sustainable America.

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Charging Ahead in the Cloud

EV Connect is a cloud-based management system for electric vehicle charging stations

EV Connect is a cloud-based management system for electric vehicle charging stations

We’re charged up about Sustainable America’s latest investment. EV Connect, a 6-year-old company in El Segundo, Calif., is working to streamline the electric vehicle charging ecosystem for both drivers and property managers through a hardware-agnostic, cloud-based software system.

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Imperfect Produce: Giving ‘Uglies’ a Chance

Imperfect Produce, ugly red bell pepper

Did you know that most grocery stores won’t buy bell peppers that can’t stand up straight? Strict produce cosmetic standards require peppers to have a perfect bell shape. “If you put it on a table and it tips over onto its side, it’s going to be rejected,” says Ben Simon.

Simon is one of the founders of Imperfect Produce, a startup we’ve recently added to our portfolio of investments. The San Francisco business sources cosmetically imperfect produce from farms and sells it in affordable weekly subscription boxes. In addition to moving this food back onto our plates, they are recovering the energy, water, and other resources used to grow all of that so called “ugly’ produce.

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How Fertilizer Made from Food Waste Can Help Drought-Stricken Farms

This California strawberry field is fertilized with H2H.

This California strawberry field is fertilized with H2H.

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.

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Building a Better Gas Tank

Infinite Composites Technologies high-pressure fuel tank

Introducing our latest investment: Infinite Composites Technologies. This Tulsa-based company has an innovative design to make higher capacity, lighter tanks for alternative fuels, helping to increase efficiency and solve range anxiety.

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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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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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