Ecology: those entrepreneurs who invent for the good of…

If environmental issues are the concern of all humanity, they are a particular concern of women. And while no overall statistics are currently available, extensive research carried out in recent years in the United States, France, northern Europe and Switzerland clearly shows this. In our country, for example, an OFS study published in 2020 establishes that 65% of respondents “see it as a very important or very important problem”. Against 56% of men.

These concerns obviously have repercussions in everyday life. Examples? Of the Swiss women surveyed, 76% say they now take energy consumption into account before purchasing small appliances (69% for men), and when it comes to shopping, 46% of them “always or most of the time” give the preference for organic products. An indicator that rises to 40% among men.

That said, whether this female sensitivity to green issues increasingly induces lifestyle adaptations – choosing sustainable and if possible local goods, carpooling, reducing food waste, energy and water consumption, composting, reducing or even cessation of the purchase of meat … –, is also reflected in actions of a broader scope.

In fact, eager for changes in which the good of the planet and its inhabitants prevails over all other considerations, thousands of scientists, economists, computer scientists, professors, politicians, engineers, technicians, etc. launched projects all over the world. Each in their scale, in their specific field, they were actively involved, becoming essential agents of the green revolution. Highlight for some of these formidable personalities who prove Aragon right. Because yes, the woman is the future of the man!

Garvita Gulhati (India): an anti-waste water app

When she discovered in 2015 that 14 million liters of unused drinking water in restaurants go down the drain each year in India, Garvita Gulhati’s blood only changes. Even more so because the drought has hit the state of Karnataka again, where she lives. Neither one nor two, the 15-year-old decides to act. Is fast. Armed with her somewhat sincere desire to do good, the girl begins touring the restaurants in her town, Bangalore, to try to convince tenants to only fill their glasses halfway, even if that means refilling their customers on demand. Unfortunately… she refuses after refusal. Tenacious, she changes her tone.

Bosses don’t want to play the game? She will attack the customers!

Is this how she envisions the Why Waste app? (Why waste?), which allows you to measure your daily consumption of drinking water. As of 2017, the success of this app was such that the federation of restaurateurs (500,000 establishments) got involved… and realized that the “glass half full” system really allows for substantial savings. That’s 10 million liters of drinking water in 5 years. Like the drip, it doesn’t look like much, but it works.

Fanny Coustaline and Caroline Dommen (Geneva): happenings in urban gardens or vermicomposting

An agronomist specializing in the trade of agricultural products and short supply chains, Fanny Coustaline actively campaigns to support sustainable consumption and promote waste reduction. As a result, with her friend Caroline Dommen, a lawyer specializing in sustainable development and very interested in the fair and circular economy, she founded the non-profit association Les Défricheuses, based in the canton of Geneva. Their goal? Help as many people as possible to see life green. And to achieve that, they put their heart, enthusiasm and time into it.

To their credit, there are many manifestations, interventions or events open to everyone in the field of local food, urban gardens, waste reduction or composting – and in particular vermicomposting in which they are experts and guides. As well as the implementation of a grain library (free and open seed exchange system) and actions to promote eco-responsible actions on a daily basis.


Ibtissem Guefrachi (France): antibiotics from the plant world

Passionate about biology since childhood, 39-year-old Ibtissem Guefrachi has had to struggle hard to find her way – mainly because of her gender. However, this determined and relentless Tunisian, who now lives in France, is now internationally recognized for her work on biodiversity and bioresource development in arid zones. And, above all, for her research on antibiotics from the plant world, which is a promising path in the fight against multidrug-resistant bacteria, “a global health emergency”, she insists.

In his future projects: the foundation of a laboratory on the interaction between plants and microbes, with the aim of reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers, which would have positive effects on climate change and water pollution.

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Pauline Lançon (France): a project to help salt producers become more independent

Winner of the 2019 UN Gender and Climate Solutions Award, Frenchwoman Pauline Lançon put her enthusiasm and know-how at the service of women and the environment in Guinea-Bissau. Mandated by the association of Guérande Univers-sel, it in fact created a project to help salt producers to become more autonomous and with a sustainable management of resources. Too much blah blah? Concrete.

In fact, Guinean women who practiced salt culture in the traditional way heated a mixture of salty earth and water over a fire. A time-consuming and especially wood-intensive process and harmful to health due to the fumes released.

Now, thanks to the techniques Pauline taught them, there’s no need to make a fire anymore – just put the brine on tarps so that evaporation occurs naturally under the effect of the sun and wind. Result: wood and time savings, less strenuous work, better sanitary conditions. The icing on the cake: no longer needing to help the mother, the children can go back to school.

Lucy Hughes (Great Britain): fish waste to make bioplastic

Although very useful, plastic is still an ecological scourge – especially when it ends up in nature. In an attempt to solve this problem and create an ersatz that had the same practical qualities but was biodegradable, numerous researches were carried out. Some did. So that of Lucy Hughes, a 25-year-old British woman who now heads the start-up Marina Tex.

Her story begins in 2019. While still a product design student at the University of Sussex and very involved with ecological issues, she has a genius idea when she passes by the remains of fish piled up in front of a fishery: what if we used this garbage? To make a bioplastic out of it? Hundreds of tests and experiments later, she obtains a flexible and resistant material, which can be used as packaging or food protection and takes between 4 and 6 weeks to decompose into a compost. So far, on fire, she is still waiting for sanitary authorizations (and some financial help, etc.), but hopes to be able to start production soon. Continuation, therefore.

Amandine Lefevre (France): parking slabs made from oyster waste

Will Amandine Lefevre revolutionize the road? As an engineer at the start-up Franche-Comté specializing in Purple Alternative Surface soil permeability, she works there, in any case. And for now, the projects launched by this young company have undeniable potential. Take the Conchy l’Innov parking slabs, for example. Made from oyster waste that oyster producers don’t know what to do with, this coating has the particularity of being permeable. Perforated with gaskets and equipped with storage cells, the plates allow rainwater to gently infiltrate the soil – and therefore overcome a dual bitumen problem: soil degradation and flooding risks.

A few days ago, the Conchy l’Innov car parks were installed on an experimental basis (for now!) near the Marennes-Oléron oyster pond. Hence to say that it is ecological to eat oysters…


Diana Yousef (USA): Dry toilets 2.0

Biochemist by vocation and entrepreneur committed to protecting the environment by passion, Dr. Diana Yousef is particularly concerned about water issues. For the first time, after launching several companies with green goals, she founded Change: WATER Labs in 2018 in the United States. It is in this context that he revisited the concept of dry toilets and developed the iThrone, a revolutionary, portable and compact small cube, since, thanks to a low-cost composite polymer membrane, the total water content of human waste is evaporated. .

There is no need for flushing therefore which drastically reduces the volume of wasted water and solves some of the evacuation and sewer problems.

What about odors or “solids”? As Diana Yousef explains, the iThrone has a bio-battery. Fueled with manure, it converts waste into energy, which is then used to ventilate bathrooms. As for emptying, it is done monthly, and this throne 2.0 is intended to treat the excrement of 5 to 10 people for about thirty days.

Majd Mashharawi (Palestine): solar kits and ecological bricks

For the young Palestinian engineer Majd Mashharawi, things are simple: “A woman with income, education and knowledge can go beyond 100 men together”. She proved it. Her story begins in Gaza in 2014. Walking in her bombing-ravaged neighborhood, she wonders how to rebuild these destroyed homes while her country has a shortage of concrete.

Suddenly, an illumination. To replace the sand and gravel that Israel no longer delivers, it will focus on a cheap, local component, coal ash. Thus, the ecological brick Green Cake was born. Numerous support tests, this material that was once used to build a wall of 1000 concrete blocks works just as well as regular concrete, costing 25% less in production. The only unknown: its durability. But that is not all. Determined to improve the daily lives of Gazans, who have known for years and daily what a blackout means, Majd Mashharawi created the start-up SunBox in 2018. His idea: to provide access to electricity by providing, among other things, off-site solar kits network at an affordable price. A utopia? His project has already allowed hundreds of families to no longer have to live in the dark…


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