Sustainable Innovation, Minus the Sticker Shock?
Thursday, June 11, 2015
What do solar-powered hearing aids, a subscription service for baby clothes and mobile technology for farmers in East Africa all have in common?
For one, they are each finalists in this year’s Sustainia100, an annual study of the top 100 sustainability innovations, published today. Solutions that claimed a spot on the list in 2015 were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 projects and businesses from across six continents and 151 countries.
Those recognized also demonstrate an important and exciting new development: that sustainability alternatives are increasingly becoming the more affordable and convenient choice.
“By creatively replacing ownership with access and reusing material in smarter ways, we are now seeing products and services highly competitive with non-sustainable alternatives,” Laura Storm, CEO of Sustainia, the think tank behind the study, explained. “This empowers businesses, communities and consumers with easy access to new sustainable opportunities.”
The cases detailed in this year’s Sustainia100 point to a paradigm shift in sustainable innovation that suggests we may be nearing a tipping point away from premium-priced solutions to sustainability challenges. More than half of the selected innovations in 2015 are competing not only on sustainability criteria, but more than ever before on affordability and accessibility, too.
Take, for example, Solar Ear. Coming straight from the heart of Brazil, these solar powered, rechargeable hearing aids last up to three years and are equal in price to their widespread, disposable alternatives, which last for only a week or so.
The increasing competitiveness found among this year’s leading sustainability innovations is especially seen in circular economy innovations and new business models for underserved markets.