On April 22 every year, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries take time out of their lives to clean up their city, encourage sustainable policy measures, or plant more trees in their communities. But for some, like these creatives, being planet-minded is a larger way of life. Today we’re celebrating Earth Day by highlighting five innovative startups that are thinking outside the box to solve environmental challenges while building interesting, dynamic and above all, creative businesses.

1. AlgiKnit

As a way to provide the fashion industry with non-toxic, biodegradable materials and reduce its footprint, startup AlgiKnit is creating durable yarns from kelp, a type of seaweed that grows along coastal communities. Kelp grows faster than bamboo and once it starts wearing out, it can be fed to animals as compost instead of being left in a landfill.                      

2. Graviky Labs

Graviky Labs is turning unhealthy air pollution into vibrant art with the help of a technology called KAALINK, a contraption that attaches to diesel trucks and cars’ exhaust to capture up to 95 percent of particulate carbon emissions. Once they collect the soot, the MIT Media Lab team filters out unwanted chemicals, heavy metals and carcinogens and turns it into carbon-based pigment for artists to use on outdoor murals and drawings.           View this post on Instagram                      

3. Concrete Jungle

Every year the United States throws away 60 million tons of produce annually, a volume that that experts have highlighted as a growing environmental concern. Concrete Jungle, a startup in Atlanta, is trying to change that. In the last five years, the group has mapped nearly 2,800 edible fruit trees that were going unharvested in their city, and have worked to salvage that food for people in need. In order to do it they had to get creative, partnering with Georgia Tech to invent an “electronic nose” that smells fruit for ripeness and sends an alert when it’s time to pick. With their new technology in hand, the organization has gleaned more than 374,000 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and donated all of it to the food-insecure, reducing both waste and hunger in one fell swoop.           View this post on Instagram                      

4. 1 Heart, 1 Tree

“One Beat, One Tree” merges technology and nature to bring awareness to deforestation. Belgian artist Naziha Mestaoui projects virtual forests onto city landmarks and invites viewers to connect to the projection using a smartphone sensor and app. As the viewers’ heartbeats are recorded through the sensor, the projection “plants” a tree to the rhythm of their heart. For every tree that is virtually grown through the app, a real tree is planted through the help of a global reforestation program. Since the project was first unveiled at the Eiffel Tower in 2015, more than 100,000 trees have been planted.          

Want to learn more about how to kickstart your own creativity, turn your ideas into action, or make more innovative designs? Check out Skillshare’s classes on ideation to begin.

Thumbnail/Banner image by Skillshare student Cassling T.

Written by:

Muriel Vega