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Good, Green and Social

One of the interesting facts about social enterprise is that the sector has been involved in green, sustainability projects for decades, long before it was ‘trendy.’ Solving the problems of sub-saharan Africa means that you need energy in places a long way away from power lines. In alternative energy, recycling and low tech solutions to sustainability issues, social enterprises have been busy.

How about this for lateral thinking? Picking up on soccer’s growing profile in Africa ahead of the 2010 world cup in South Africa, a group of Harvard students have come up with sOccket. Basically it is a football which also doubles as a portable device that captures the impact energy normally created when a football is kicked. It then stores the energy and the device can be used to charge lights, cell phones and batteries. 15 minutes of play means enough energy to power a small LED light for about three hours. The product has been successfully tested in Durban in South Africa. The commercial world have just started to look at such ‘kinetic’ devices for energy.

Now the commercial world is taking an interest in sustainable living and the ensuing competition will be interesting to watch. Take an organisation like Green Works in the UK. It literally profits from waste, this time office furniture which is collected from companies and recycled, resold at a discount to other small organisations and non-profit businesses.

Their motto is ‘waste nothing’ and it has led them to win the Queens Award for sustainable development in 2008.  Material is saved from landfills, and organisations save money on the recycled furniture they buy from Green Works, while Green Works makes a modest profit. Good, Green and Social.

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