Regular textile manufacture can have devastating environmental impacts, through its use of energy and toxic chemicals. That was the driving force that led Diana Auria, founder of swimwear brand ‘Auria’ to create a range of garments by melting down discarded fishing nets and other marine debris.
Auria is quick to point out that although environmental issues are important to her, the product has to look and feel right or people won’t buy it. Her strategy seems to be paying off with the brand attracting high profile stockists including Urban Outfitters and Yoox.
This last point is critically important I think. Environmental credentials will get attention and create a point of difference, but it will only convert in to profits if the product is right.
If an idea can capture the spirit of the times, it probably has a decent chance of success. That’s why I was interested to read about Bio-Bean. A start-up that plans to turn coffee waste into coffee logs.
Coffee Logs are biomass briquettes that can be used in almost any fire-heated appliance, from pizza ovens to wood burning stoves and barbecues. Biofuels are plant-based energy sources designed specifically to replace petrochemicals and fossil fuels. By using local waste material as the main ingredient in its products, and working with infrastructure already in place, including waste management teams, bio-bean is able to produce carbon-neutral fuel.
I know very little about this technology, but it seems to me that if coffee waste can be turned into fuel, other product waste could be too. So what other (ideally locally produced) waste could you turn into fuel? Perhaps something to investigate.
Tons of apples go to waste every year in orchards around London. It was this fact that caused Simon Wright, founder of drinks company Hawkes, to launch Urban Orchard Cider. Hawkes allows anyone to trade their unwanted apples for cider at their company base in Forest gate. This is then mixed with regular fruit to give a consistent taste. More than 100 apple donors contribute to the process, and as an added advantage, they each spread the word about the product via word of mouth.
Why bother? Well The 2015 Neilsen Global Sustainability Report found that two thirds of consumers were prepared to pay more for sustainable brands. So not only is it environmentally friendly, it makes sound economic sense as well.
This ‘trash to cash’ trend is one that’s set to continue. Time to get your thinking cap on. What waste products can you turn into cash? Over the next few days, I’ll be giving you some more examples of companies and individuals cashing in on this trend. Hopefully there will be something to inspire you.