Ann and Jeff Ross became beekeepers by accident. A few years ago, a hive of European honeybees had made themselves at home in one of the walls of Jeff and Ann’s car mechanic shop on the Sunshine Coast. Instead of just getting the hive removed, the couple decided to relocate them to their backyard and with that became hobby beekeepers overnight.
Little did they know at the time that their new hobby would soon turn into a business. Ann and Jeff are the founders of Hive Haven, an Australian agricultural start-up that is one part boutique honey producer and one part award-winning manufacturer of insulated hives designed for the needs of the Australian stingless native bee.
hobby beekeeper to industry innovator
“I was doing a business degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast when we got that first hive”, remembers Ann. “While I was studying, Jeff’s interest in bees grew and he started growing his apiary .”
In the search for a more sustainable energy mix, solar, wind
and nuclear power are clearly dominating the discussion. But there’s another
source of renewable energy that has great potential: ocean waves.
“Unfortunately, no wave energy technology has managed to be
cost effective until now”, says Oceanographer Tom Denniss. “But we believe that
will soon change”.
Tom and his team at Australian energy technology company Wave Swell Energy (WSE) are about to prove
that wave energy has the potential to become a serious player in sustainable power
generation. WSE is about to construct and launch a 200 kW wave energy project
on King Island, with Hydro Tasmania integrating the electricity
from the unit into the local hybrid grid, alongside its existing wind, solar,
and diesel generation.
Producing energy through waves at a competitive price
Proving that wave energy can be captured in a cost-competitive
way has long been a challenge for the sector. WSE is aiming to demonstrate this
capability via the King Island project – and as a result of that to become the
first wave energy technology to enter the commercial phase.
As the former owner of three busy restaurants in New
Zealand, Ben Grant knows a thing or two about the issue of packaging. “We had about
10,000 people moving through our premises every week and around 50% of our customers
were ordering takeaway”, he recalls. “Add to that all the packaging that the
produce is coming in and you’re dealing with huge piles of rubbish and
recycling every day.”
Having always been conscious about the footprint he’s been living, Ben decided to change the packaging industry for the better after he sold his restaurant business in 2018. Together with Josh Kempton he founded Grounded Packaging, a start-up company that is aiming to replace soft plastic with compostable packaging from bio-based materials.
“The reason why we focussed on soft plastic is that it is the most problematic area within our current waste and recycling system”, says Ben.
Soft plastic cannot be processed through the kerbside recycling system because it gets caught in the machinery (side note: soft plastic can get recycled through RedCycle). At the same time, soft plastic – like most plastics – is made from petrochemicals and is therefore detrimental to the environment in more than one way.
“Packaging material fulfils an important role in life – and especially in the food industry”, says Ben. For instance, packaging is known to significantly increase the shelf life of fresh produce which in turn helps to reduce food waste.
Hayley Shute has her hands full as we are about to start our
chat. A couple of koalas need her attention before we get the chance to talk
about her work at Aussie Ark, a wildlife
conservation organisation dedicated to protecting Australia’s endangered
species. “That’s one of the things I love most about my job: you never know
what they might spring on you next”, she says with a laugh.
With the koalas safely moved, Hayley shares her love for Australian
wildlife conservation with infectious enthusiasm. “Most people get so excited
about lions and elephants, and other exotic animals from far-flung locations,
but we are so lucky to have so many unique animals here in Australia – and we
need to do much more to protect them”, she asserts.
As the curator at the non-for-profit organisation she’s working
to save some of Australia’s most vulnerable species from extinction and to
educate the public about the need to protect them. “Unfortunately, many people
have never heard about some of our most threatened animal species”, she says. “And
the less awareness there is, the harder it is to secure their future.”
In 2011 they launched Devil Ark with the aim to establish an
insurance population of the endangered Tasmanian Devil on the Australian
mainland. The iconic marsupial
– that now can only be found in Tasmania in the wild – is under threat because
of a particular nasty form of cancer called Devil
Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).
Raising awareness for the plight of Australia’s wildlife is something that’s close to Sarah Ash’s heart. A couple of years ago the Queensland based mother, photographer, videographer and musician started wild_ – a photo project, showcasing Australia’s endangered wildlife.
Sarah took the time to chat about her creative project.
What motivated you to
I started wild_ a few years ago while I was working for an
environmental management company. I was doing some research for the company’s social
media page and came across all these animals I had never heard about.
These species were also listed as endangered and I wanted to
do something to raise awareness. If I hadn’t heard about them, this was probably
also true for most Australians. So, I decided to use my skills to try and do
something about it.
Bustling streets, tons of creative energy and the promise of
new opportunities – large cities have always drawn people like magnets. And
while the world’s modern metropolises still lure with the promise of excitement
and infinite possibility, they also represent one of the biggest challenges for
According to projections by the United Nations, 68% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. While cities only take up 2% of the world’s surface, they consume 78% of the world’s energy and produce 60% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It’s inevitable then that any serious attempts to reverse climate change will need to include a framework for sustainable cities.
Mews is an urban planner and the founder of the Urban Synergies Group. After having
studied urban planning and design in Berlin, he travelled the world to learn more
about the human condition at different stages of urban development.
Now based in Australia’s capital, Canberra, Gregor is working with local governments, non-government organisations, businesses and UN Habitat to create healthier, more connected and sustainable communities. In short, if you want to have a philosophical discussion about what the future of the city should look like, Gregor is your man!
“We’re at a
historical moment in time”, says Gregor about the urgency of the problem. “We
have three years to turn the trend in global warming around until we enter the adaptation phase.“
However, to tackle this problem, it would require more than just installing
solar panels on rooftops.
It’s in this context that Gregor identifies 3 fundamental shifts required in our
thinking that will ultimately lead to sustainable
1. Putting human needs at the heart of urban planning
“The issue with this ranking system is that it’s basically
designed for rich minorities – highly educated people with a high
socio-economic status who want to travel to and live in those places. But these
rankings tell us very little about what ordinary life looks like for the
majority”, says Gregor. “For example,
Sydney has often been ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
But I doubt that most people in Western Sydney would agree with this assessment.”
For a long time, making more sustainable style choices could seem like an absolute minefield. Fast fashion brands continue to dominate our malls and even if you are prepared to pay more for your clothing it doesn’t necessarily mean that the garments were made from better quality materials or under better conditions.
good news is that as consumer awareness around the environmental and social
impact of their fashion choices is growing, more and more brands are emerging
that adopt more sustainable philosophies.
Courtney Holm is a Melbourne-based designer and the founder of Australia’s first circular fashion label A.BCH. Through local sourcing, the use of 100% traceable material and radical transparency, Courtney is looking to offer consumers the opportunity to make better choices and is working to change the fashion industry from within.
Shun the plastic bag. Eat less meat. Ride your bike instead of driving. Changing the default in our everyday choices is among the most common advice given to anyone looking to lessen their impact on the planet. And while each of these decisions does reduce our personal carbon footprint a little bit, many people are unknowingly undermining their own efforts to lead a more sustainable life through their investments.
“It’s all well and good to take your KeepCup to the coffee shop, but if you are still investing in companies that depend on fossil fuels there’s a massive misalignment between your values and how you’re going about securing your future in economic terms”, says Tom Culver. To help bridge this gap, the former wealth and investment manager took a leap of faith at the beginning of 2017 and left his stable career to launch the ethical investment start-up Goodments together with his wife Emily Taylor.
Democratising ethical investment
The idea behind Goodments is simple: make it as easy as possible for anyone to invest in recognisable brands that are aligned with their values. The Sydney-based FinTech company is achieving this through a combination of different strategies.
Ditching the finance jargon
“The world of finance is full of unnecessary complexity and language that is completely meaningless to the majority of people”, explains Tom. “That’s why we decided to move away from talking purely about financial returns to emphasising the impact instead.”