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1. Get on your bike for the climate
Cycling allows cities and countries to cut carbon emissions without hindering economic growth says new research. The study by the European Cyclists Federation finds that cycling is creating more jobs in Europe than car makers are in the United States. It employs more than 655,000 people across industries such as retail, manufacturing, infrastructure, investment and tourism.
Australian Ethical invests in two companies within the cycling industry – Shimano and Accell. According to Nathan Lim, AEI’s international equities portfolio manager, Shimano’s share price has been one of our best performers. “For the 12 months ending 31 December 2014, the stock rose 73%. After adjusting for dividends and converting back to Australian dollars, the stock returned 67% to our investors,” he says.
The stock reached a new all-time high in December 2014. “Shimano is doing so well because it is expanding in China and its end markets in Europe and Japan are seeing better trading conditions. It is winning market share in its traditional markets and is being well received in new markets, specifically the components it sells to e-bikes,” says Lim.
2. Powering 80,000 homes with wind turbines
Some locals check out the brand new Mt Mercer wind farm. Photo: Meridian Energy.
Turbines have begun to turn at the 131 megawatt Mt Mercer wind farm in Victoria. The project, by New Zealand’s 100% renewable energy company Meridian Energy, began generating energy in 2013 and is now at full capacity. It produces enough electricity to power 80,000 homes, eliminating a potential 500,000 tonnes per year of carbon emissions generated by fossil-fuel generators.
Customers in nearby Ballarat could gain the most benefit, due to the windfarm’s proximity, with Meridian-owned energy retailer Powershop hoping to sign up 5000 Ballarat customers by the middle of this year.
3. Turning greasy paper into green buildings
Pro-fibre pulp after it has been through the decontamination process.
Waste and resources business Veolia is transforming non-recyclable paper and cardboard from household waste into a practical pulp. The new product, known as Pro-Fibre, is being pioneered in the UK and will make use of paper that’s been contaminated with glass, sand, plastic, metal, food or grease.
The contaminant-free pulp could replace virgin materials used in the construction and packaging industry with products such as cellulose-based insulation, packaging or plasterboard.
4. Bringing healthy solar lights to Africa
Enphase Energy has joined the mission to eliminate toxic kerosene lanterns from Africa by 2020. The company has formed a charitable partnership with SolarAid, a London-based international non-profit that provides off-grid communities with access to clean, affordable solar lights.
“Affordable solar lights increase people’s income by an average of 15% per month, enhance work and study time, improve health, cut carbon emissions and provide a platform for local economies to flourish,” says Andrew Webb, the managing director of SolarAid. “With the help of supporters such as Enphase we can reach off-grid communities and educate them in the use of solar, while developing a solid international network to lobby institutions and governments.”
Lighting up millions of African households with solar is a dream they’re actually achieving.
5. Touch-free device offers tips to improve your sleep
ResMed has just taken the covers off a small device that can measure how well you are sleeping from 1.2 metres away. The 20cm high ResMed S+ uses onboard sensors to monitor a sleeper’s respiration and heart rate, as well as conditions in the room.
The device also has an ambient light sensor and thermometer. The sleeper uses Bluetooth to pair the S+ with their smartphone and sync it with a ResMed app, then log the time they go to bed.
After a while, the ResMed S+ can point out patterns in someone’s sleep and suggest how to get a better night’s rest (such as more exercise) or isolate problem factors (eg, the bedroom’s too hot or too bright).
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