Need Some Good News?

Promising news in the climate world, including sand batteries and plastic roads!

by Greenwashed

Need Some Good News?
Photo by Jake Ingle of an ecstatic Greenwashed member after reading this edition 


Welcome back to Greenwashed! 👋

Lately, the world has been awash with bad news, from fears of a financial crisis to another damning IPCC report. 😕

In light of all the bad news floating around as of late, we decided it was time for an edition of positivity. Despite the fact this will almost certainly be bad for our metrics because humans are (perhaps evolutionarily) addicted to negative news, we think it's necessary. 🫡

We want to fight against the phenomenon of the "availability heuristic", which is the observed pattern that people estimate an event's probability of occurring by how easily they can recall it being covered in the media. If all you read is doom, doom becomes inevitable.

Not only does that have dangerous policy implications, it also goes against our core thesis about the climate crisis: it's dire, but above all else, it's solvable.

With that being said, enjoy some of the month's good news! 😃

Sand Batteries? 🔋

Finnish company Polar Night Energy has started utilizing energy from the world's first battery made out of sand. 🏝

The battery uses "really really hot sand" (don't come at me for the vocabulary, that's literally pulled from their home page) as a method of storage from heat generated by solar or wind energy.

While the capacity isn't phenomenal, the excitement surrounds the fact that sand is abundant and cheap, unlike many other resources needed in battery technology such as lithium. ⛏

Right now, it's only providing heat for a single district in Western Finland, but the low cost of sand means scalability is on the horizon. As always, we'll keep you updated as it progresses.

A Creative Plastic Waste Solution ♻️

Plastic waste is a massive problem; despite the marketing you may be familiar with, plastics are actually almost not recyclable at all and the resulting microplastics are ending up everywhere, including unborn babies. 🙃

To help solve this problem, American company ByFusion hopes to use that long-term durability to our advantage by building infrastructure from landfill plastic.

ByFusion plastic walls

They're currently testing out a pilot project in Idaho that would remove 72 tons of landfill plastic to build walls, park benches, and other infrastructure.

It's just a pilot project, but it follows a recent positive trend of reusing plastic to rebuild infrastructure more sustainably, highlighted by the Netherlands' plastic roads. The low costs and large emissions cuts of these types of projects are certainly something worth getting excited about. 

Greentech Bands Together 🤝

In the wake of the now-infamous collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the climate-tech industry was on high alert. 🚨

SVB was critically important to the sector; as the default "startup bank", it contained enough of the industry's assets, including a whopping 60% of all community solar financing, that its failure would mean catastrophe. 📉

Fortunately, the greentech sector banded together. Instead of racing against each other in the bank run, climate incubators and accelerators spent the hectic weekend helping out any and all companies who needed advice and management on how to navigate the crisis in what can be seen as a rare example of corporate community solidarity.

Eventually, the FDIC stepped in and (temporarily, at least) quelled everyone's fears. However, it's nice to know that in times of crisis, the people in climate tech will help each other out due to their shared interest and knowledge that the problem they're trying to tackle is bigger than any one company can solve.

The King of Alt-Milk Is Back At It 👑

Grocery stores, coffee shops, and the stomachs of non-dairy consumers are all familiar with Swedish unicorn Oatly!, the oat milk sensation that debuted at a $13 billion valuation in 2021 and has scaled to over 20 countries.

Despite taking heavy hits to its stock price in recent years, Oatly! recently announced a massive $425 million round of funding, which displays the institutional confidence in the future of dairy alternatives. 💸

It's especially important that oat milk is continuing to get funding. Dairy is definitely the biggest villain, but alternatives such as soy milk (deforestation) and almond milk (insanely inefficient water usage) have real problems as well.

Oats, on the other hand, are the most sustainable alt-milk option and, importantly, have lots of acreage that can be easily freed up to scale to meet rises in demand. 📈

Institutional finance's bear-market confidence in oat milk is an important signal that it's not just here to stay, but could be a real, long-term alternative to dairy.

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed the good news. If you've been inspired to help out in the fight against the climate crisis, start by offsetting your emissions here or by subscribing below to stay up-to-date on all of the need-to-know climate problems and solutions.