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10 Exciting Sustainability Innovations in 2022

Sustainability Innovations Cover Image from Canva of a seedling growing out of a metal cog

Companies are pushing to promote green alternatives to the old ways of living. Governments are signing deals to finance these activities. People are including sustainable options in their lives.

From fixing mistakes of the past to shaping the way of the future, there are countless ways you can make a difference. It’s easy to lose yourself and not know what to do: the green economy is advancing by leaps and bounds.

For those who want to learn the latest in the green sector, here are 10 sustainability innovations in 2022:

10 Sustainability Innovations in 2022

1. Fixing One of Our Biggest Blunders: Sustainable Plastic

Sustainability is not about securing the future and climate change alone: we have to rectify past mistakes. When it comes to problems from before that pester us today, it doesn’t get any bigger than plastic.

Plastic is everywhere: around our food, deep in the ocean, and inside our bodies. Finding a way to replace plastic is a must. Fortunately, entrepreneurs and companies are working to make that happen and have already created smart, sustainable innovations.

For example, AirCarbon has won several awards because of what it offers: a carbon-negative way of making plastic. It’s FDA-approved for food contact – and it’s also food for microorganisms! Since AirCarbon isn’t synthetic plastic, living things can break it down for nutrients and make it disappear.

Screenshot of the AirCarbon homepage
Image: AirCarbon

In other words, AirCarbon is removing synthetic plastic from the picture and introducing sustainable plastic for people.

Besides being biodegradable, it’s also malleable and moldable, so it may also replace animal leather.

2. Being Better When Wrapping Your Food: Biodegradable Packaging

If sustainable plastic is not possible, what about an edible alternative? That’s right: the minds at Mori have created a plastic-like food wrap made from natural sources. You can use it to wrap your food and eat it as dessert because they make it from edible silk proteins.

Why do we need biodegradable packaging? We already know the problems plastic causes – but do you fathom the magnitude of those issues? 50% of all plastic is used once and then thrown away. Close to 80% of all plastic is used as food packaging. As you can see, sustainable innovation is much needed in that area, and edible plastic can also help combat food waste as a nice side effect.

These polymers take 450 years to decompose. That’s almost 20 generations! The food packaging you use today will create issues for the great-great-great grandchildren of your great-great-great grandchildren. You could say plastic is a long-term problem we need to fix today.

Fortunately, Mori manufactures biodegradable packaging that keeps food fresh and our planet away from old problems. 

3. Choosing Green to Save Blue: Garbage Bins for the Ocean

The third item on our list is about plastic too. This time, we bring no alternatives for the future – but a way to fix the many issues of the past.

Can you name anyone who spends more time on the water than surfers? People in the Navy, maybe. Nevertheless, marines have to go on the water because of their obligations. Surfers do it out of love.

That love for the waves helped Ceglinski and Turton create the Seabin, a garbage bin for the sea.

This incredible creation filters detergents, plastics, and oil when you use it: it catches nasty things and releases clean water. What’s the best part? You don’t have to do that much other than buy it and clean it once a month. That’s right: the Seabin does most of the work, so you can relax and know you’re doing your part.

Graphic of the waste Seabin can collect
Image: Seabin

4. Using the Sunny Side of the Universe: Solar Generators

Energy consumption is a big issue. There are many harmful ways of generating energy, like burning coal. Unfortunately, only a few are available for those that want to go green.

There’s no need to feel down because of that, especially when you can look up and see one of the biggest sustainable energy sources, the sun.

Solar generators harness the power of the sun. In doing so, they become an amazing alternative to traditional ways of generating energy. At the same time, solar energy is an affordable option long-term.

If you are interested and use well-researched sources, you can educate yourself online about all aspects of solar generators online. It’ll not happen overnight. Nevertheless, investing time (and then a little money) in learning about the subject will be a life-changer.

Think about it: instead of paying for energy generated by coal or gas, you can install solar generators and get everything you need from the sun for free!

Solar Panel with little piles of coins on it in the sunshine

5. Tap Into a Good Thing: Renewable Energy Storage

Going green takes more than choosing biodegradable food packaging. You have to turn your house into an eco-friendly temple. Winter is right around the corner, so choosing an eco-friendly type of insulation is a must.

That’s not all! You have to combine your solar generators with an ecological way of storing that energy. That may be hard to do if your entire house is solar-powered and you have an electric car to drive.

Worry not! Help is on the way: the Asia Pacific is creating a way to increase energy output and decrease greenhouse gases. Their new energy storage system will guarantee an abundance of emission-free energy in the future.

Why is sustainable energy storage necessary? Because it reduces the emissions, a city generates. When you can store energy for future use, you don’t have to generate it all the time. Since we’re switching to electric cars, it’s something to consider.

6. Asking Machines for Help: CO2-Reducing Robots

Cooking is a chore a lot of people don’t want to face after a long day at work. That’s totally understandable! When that happens, you use DoorDash or UberEats to handle that issue. Unfortunately, every time you do, you contribute to generating more than 6 million tons of emissions food delivery generates.

Those 6 million tons of problems will soon be a thing of the past. Kiwibot has developed a compact and somewhat cute robot that can deliver your food – at a rate of 0 emissions per delivery!

In 2017, each robot from Kiwibot made about 400 deliveries. As their technology gets better, their delivery rates will too.

Kiwibot, a Colombian startup, has signed deals with many countries, going as far as the Middle East to seal the deal. Because of that, you can expect a cute robot from Kiwibot to knock on your door when you crave something delicious soon.

Screenshot of the KiwiBot homepage

7. Taking Tech to the Future: AI-focused Alternatives

There are many ways artificial intelligence can help us when our minds come up short. For example, at Live Green Co, scientists and IT engineers use AI to develop the best ways to reduce food-production-related pollution.

They focus their efforts on replacing synthetic and ultra-processed ingredients we often find in our food. They want to replace these nasty things with sustainable, organic, and green ingredients with the power of AI.

While the good guys at Live Green Co fight tooth and nail to create better food, others shape how we understand things.

At Gramener, data scientists are trying to figure out the different connections between natural disasters. They aim to prevent future problems that way. Since these issues are overly complex, they use artificial intelligence to make the most out of the data available. By doing so, they help people, companies, and governments create sustainable solutions to many issues.

8. Going Green to See Dollars: Sustainable Finance

Companies everywhere are slowly coming to terms with a simple idea: you can’t make money if the world is long gone. Because of that, they are slowly but surely betting on sustainable projects. That’s how sustainable finance is born.

When financial analysts start to become interested in this way of doing business, profit takes a backseat. Other elements, such as environmental and social factors, become more important.

This sudden realization didn’t happen on its own. Governments and NGOs are pushing big financial players to think sustainable: the World Bank has several programs to promote sustainability. Bankers also invest in companies that emphasize green elements rather than Dollars alone. Watch the great explanation video below to understand sustainable finance better.

Check out this video by Frankfurt School of Finance & Management for more info:

Of course, this is the old way of doing business. The internet has provided young adults with many ways to invest their money – but how sustainable can that be?

9. Making the Most Out of Tokens: Green Cryptocurrency

The internet has provided us with ethical alternatives to use our money crypto but also for online platforms. Unfortunately, it has also given us too many energy-hungry ways of spending: the Bitcoin market consumes more energy than several Western countries. Because of that, many cryptocurrency enthusiasts sought better, more sustainable ways of trading these tokens.

The problem with Bitcoin is proof of work. It’s the way the entire system has to validate transactions. It consumes a lot of energy. Nevertheless, other alternatives are already in place, like proof of stake, which MIT included in their list of breakthrough technologies of 2022.

How does proof of stake differs from proof of work? While the technology is difficult to understand, the numbers are simple: proof of stake uses three times less energy than proof of work. While far from ideal, it’s a great move forward. Cryptocurrencies such as Cardano use proof of stake.

10. No Need to Buy it Twice: The Sharing Economy

Reducing waste is one of the biggest goals of going green. Sometimes, you can’t create sustainable alternatives right away – but you can figure out ways to decrease emissions.

Joining the sharing economy, a concept that’s getting more and more notoriety in 2022, may be perfect for people who want to do that.

How does the sharing economy work? It’s easier to understand it with examples: renting bikes or scooters when you have to move around the city means you’re part of the sharing economy. Buying second-hand clothes and electronics have the same goal.

Woman looking at clothes in a rail in a trendy and modern-industrial looking thrift store

The European Union is promoting this way of buying and selling things now more than ever. Several startups are creating new platforms for people to rent or borrow items at a lower prices. When we work together, sustainability is closer than ever.

Conclusion

Sustainability is the future – but it needs to start now.

Whether you want to focus on cleaning up past mistakes by removing harmful stuff from the water, replacing polymers with sustainable plastics in the present, or helping develop the green tools of tomorrow, we need to act today. These ten innovations are a great place to emphasize on.

Don’t shy away from trying if you can’t use everything on this list! You may not know much about AI, but you can start pushing for biodegradable food packaging.

We can all do our part to make this world a little better – and greener!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Being Sustainable Difficult?

Not at all! It's challenging at first - but so is every significant change you go through in life! After all, moving habits from the old ways of doing things may seem difficult. After you start developing sustainable habits, you'll see how easy it is. Check out the full guide to learn more about the great innovations helping us be more sustainable.

What Are Some Challenges to Sustainability?

Fixing past mistakes is one of the biggest challenges we face. Pollution, plastics, and other problems are a few samples of the many things we must fix if we want to save our planet. Fortunately, we can do our part by adopting sustainable alternatives, such as biodegradable food packaging. Read the full guide to learn more about the sustainability innovations overcoming some of the challenges of sustainability.

How Can I Lead a More Sustainable Life?

Incorporate green options into your life. Are you into cryptocurrency? Find green coins and tokens you can invest in. Do you want to save money on your utility bills frequently? Buy solar generators for an affordable and sustainable energy alternative. Think outside the box to save the world you live in! Read the full guide to learn more.

Do You Need to be Wealthy to Lead a Sustainable Lifestyle?

Absolutely not! In fact, many are making money by going green. Wall Street is making a turn and focusing on sustainable finance. At the same time, people can save money by joining the sharing economy: renting bikes and scooters are more affordable and sustainable than buying them. Read the full guide to learn more about innovations helping us be more sustainable every day.

References and Resources

University of Minnesota: Sustainable Polymers

Science Direct: Renewable Energy Storage

ResearchGate: AI for Sustainability and the Sustainability of AI 

Harvard University: What is Sustainable Finance and Why is it Important? 

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