From Earth Hour to Circle Economy – fighting climate change for a better world

Almost ten years ago, I was the co-founder of Earth Hour. 2007 was the very first Earth Hour and one of the most extraordinary experiences I have ever had, standing by Sydney Harbour watching this beautiful city go dark and realising that there were millions of people out there who shared our desire for change.  But more than this, as the days got closer to Earth Hour, it was the diversity of participation that was most impressive – from priests, rugby league clubs, school kids and major corporations to drag queens and speed skaters.  It was the start of the manifestation of Earth Hour’s powerful mainstream reach, the people ‘in the middle’ that we in the green movement had struggled to engage in the past.

Summertime often equals campfires and BBQ parties. However, what serves as a luxurious and enjoyable pastime for the lucky few, is actually serious health-hazard for most. Globally, over 4 million people die every year from household air pollution mostly due to cooking over burning wood, animal dung or charcoal. To paint a grim picture, the average wood-burning stove can produce 400 cigarettes’ worth of smoke every hour. Besides abundant health issues, this widely used practice has other detrimental side effects as well such as deforestation and pollution. The solution: SolSource, the solar powered cooker…

How many times have you bought something for one specific purpose only to let it collect dust for all eternity afterwards? How many times have you needed a *insert object here* but didn’t want to buy one and after a failed attempt to borrow one from a friend, you either give up on your project or improvise with a far inferior object? Sound familiar? Enter, Peerby. Peerby is like that incredibly useful neighbor who you don’t have to make small talk with every time you see each other but whose drill you can always borrow. Peerby allows you to use everything you need without buying it, without cluttering your storage space and with the added bonus that you get to know your neighbors.

What can we do to stop the plastic pollution crisis? Molly Morse says, make an eco-friendly alternative. The world was left dumbfounded by the Castaway-like story of Jose Salvador Alvarenga, a 36-old fisherman from El Salvador who was found alive in 2014 on the southernmost tip of the Marshall Islands 438 days after a massive storm had slammed his boat off course. Without a working engine, GPS or cell-phone, his remarkable story of survival features tales of catching fish by hand and prayers to God as he drifted aimlessly.

Eben Bayer grew up on a maple farm in Canada. To fire up the boiler they’d use woodchips, which is where Bayer first learned about mycelium or “nature’s glue”. Heaps of woodchips would – as you may imagine – start to grow mushrooms when left alone outside and when it was time to move the woodchips into the boiler, some chunks would stick to each other and the shovel because of the mycelium in the mushrooms. At the time, Bayer probably didn’t think he would use this knowledge to transform the packaging industry, but that is in fact what happened.

Robert Matthams pitched his company Shiply back in 2009 to the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge and won the support of €100,000 to help expand. Now operating across ten countries, with over 1.7 million customers, 3.2 million delivery listings posted and 100,000 transport companies using the platform, Shiply has thrived off the back of the support.

So, bricks. How much time have you ever spent thinking about bricks? Unless you’ve built your own house, I’m guessing the subject has hardly ever crossed your mind. This means that you’d probably be somewhat surprised to find out that bricks are used in over 80 percent of global construction. I say ‘somewhat surprised’ because it isn’t a truly mind-boggling statistic is it? Ok, let’s try this one: 1.23 trillion bricks are produced every year. A little bit more impressing if only due to the word “trillion”, right? Alright, then here’s for the real slam-dunk: producing all these bricks creates 800 million tons of carbon emissions worldwide on a yearly basis. Why? Because bricks need to be “fired”.