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Plan-It Earth Week: Eco-Entrepreneurship

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The Milky Way has over a billion stars in it. And amongst those billion stars, our lonely little solar system with our lovely little Planet Earth had the perfect conditions in it to allow life to nurture. Harvard professors calculated probability of this happening is one in a million million. That’s twelve zeroes after a one. Given this statistical wonder that our planet provided us with, I think it’s only fair that we dedicate a week to its celebration. A week dedicated to serving it, healing it, cooling it down, and making it a better place to live in. Making it proud. And in making Planet Earth proud, we must speak of the innovators, who with their actions, helped the Earth heal. Namely, eco-entrepreneurs. Who are better understood by their brilliant contributions to helping fix the planet in their own ways. As part of the celebrations for Planet Earth Week, we’ll take a closer look at their deeds and consider what personal contributions we can make to moving forward with sustainability and giving back to the environment.

So what are eco-entrepreneurs? We all know that entrepreneur is the French term for a businessman. Essentially, an eco-entrepreneur is a person who connects their business needs with environmental stewardship. A blend of ecological concern and entrepreneurial ventures. As we contend with the natural disasters and environmental crises, eco-entrepreneurship emerges as a sustainable and critical response, prioritizing the environment while still meeting business needs. It provides a framework for developing and implementing business practices that reduce our environmental footprint, enhance sustainability, and contribute to a healthier planet.


Nzambi Matee, of Nairobi

Like Nzambi Matee, of Nairobi. She invested all her life savings into an experimental project that converts plastic waste into construction material. In a time where waste by-products need proper disposal techniques, this trick becomes invaluable. Instead of overpopulating landfills with construction waste, this project recycles it into better products. These bricks are lighter and more durable than cement and have already been used to pave various streets and walkways in low-income neighbourhoods. Her business now produces 1500 pavers daily and has proven that business models can centre around the concept of recycling and reusing.


Lefteris Arapakis, of Greece

Lefteris Arapakis, of Greece, comes from five generations of fishing families. Upon his first expedition out into the sea, he tossed out his net and found that it caught, amongst other things, a can of red Coke which was over 3 decades old. When his fellow fishermen tossed it back into the sea, not seeing the value of hauling back debris, he founded Enaleia, a fishing school which teaches fishers to adopt more eco-friendly fishing techniques and helps educate children on plastic pollution in the oceans. His school also helps make fishing a more sustainable practice to help local fishermen make a profit on their business while upscaling the plastic they bring in.


Fatemah Alzelzela

Kuwait is among the wealthiest countries in the world, per capita. However, it has not yet adopted several key sustainability practices that are commonplace elsewhere. Fortunately Fatemah was there to help!

Fatemah Alzelzela is another proud voice of eco-entrepreneurship who has brought surprising change to her country. In a country without sustainable waste management systems, she has co-founded a non-profit organization called Eco Star that recycles trash from homes, schools, and restaurants. She has already recycled more than 3.5 tonnes of plastic, 10 tonnes of paper, and 120 tonnes of metal.


Xiaoyuan Ren, the CEO of MyH2O

Xiaoyuan Ren, the CEO of MyH2O, pioneered a data repository and a mobile application to help people identify safe drinking water. In a country where about half the water sources are polluted, Ren’s idea allows youth volunteers to collaborate and record the water quality of the nation’s vast water sources and thus removes much of the risk from them. It also offers the locals advice on safe decontamination and purification practices and offers methods to contact private firms that help treat contaminated water sources. Her team has surveyed thousands of villages and delivered services to over a thousand beneficiaries.


Max Hidalgo, an inventor from Peru

Max Hidalgo, an inventor from Peru, lives in a real-life Verne novel. His invention converts wind into water! No, really! His invention allows you to convert vapour in the air into water. Trapping the humidity and converting it to hydration, much like insects do. This is called biomimicry, a concept that Hidalgo has much interest in. And in a place where climate change makes water a scarce resource, his method is much more sustainable than having drinkable water transported over vast distances. Not only more sustainable but it is also more economic, costing less than a tenth of what transportation costs.


Thomas Fudge, the CEO, and co-founder of WASE

And finally, our very own made-in-Brunel eco-entrepreneur! After his travels made him aware of the pitiful state of water services in the rural regions of the world, Dr. Thomas Fudge, the CEO, and co-founder of WASE, began initiatives that helped him work on ideas cooking in his head since his dissertation years. After finally achieving the funding to build the pilot units, he was able to construct a prototype that allowed them to treat waste water to gather energy from the waste!


Botanist Hugh Wilson

Whilst practicing sustainable solutions in your business is admirable, there are several eco-entrepreneurs whose projects exist on a non-profit scale, purely for the benefit of the planet. In order to aid the repair of the Earth, these innovative individuals have made great leaps in the field of preservation and committed acts that must be recognized, for their innovation and their initiative.

A shining example is botanist Hugh Wilson. He understood how agriculture sapped the land of its natural nutrients and proposed a plan to convert barren farmland into native rainforests. Though met with scepticism at first, thirty years later, he is now responsible for overseeing 1500 hectares of native forests in the Hinewai Nature Reserve in New Zealand.


Jadav Payeng of the Molai Forest

Jadav Payeng of the Molai Forest is a very well-known environmentalist. Single-handedly, he revived an abandoned government scheme to help reforest regions of East India. Starting at the early age of sixteen, he continued to plant trees along the banks of the river Bhramaputra. He planted species of bamboos and then several other trees until they grew into the 1360 acres of wood that it is today. Several species of wildlife including tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses have moved into the new forests.


Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado and her husband Sebastião Salgado

Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado and her husband Sebastião Salgado are another example of determined individuals bringing about great motions of change through patience and perseverance. Over a course of twenty years, the two have been responsible for reclaiming a rainforest and refreshing the wildlife and diversity within. Their efforts have now yielded over 2 million trees and numerous insects, birds, fish, and animals a new home.


Yi Jiefang

Yi Jiefang is a mother who is dedicating her eco-entrepreneurship not to herself but her son. After losing her son in a car accident, she has since dedicated herself to planting trees in Inner Mongolia. What started out as a tribute to her child has now become an important government project to raise awareness regarding deforestation all over China.


All of these bright minds started out right where we are in their pursuit for eco-entrepreneurship. Their actions and policies brought about profound change but what served them above all else was their perseverance and initiative. To start early and to never stop should be our motto as we consider defending our dear planet Earth. For Planet Earth week, let us vow to do the same and aid the world as much as we can.



Co-written by Kathan Dabhi ( & Yuvraj Jayeshbhai Solanki (