Anyone’s up for a coffee break?

by Arsene, Pål Idar, Marius & Vegard



In order to survive long and tedious days at the study halls, a major part of the students are dependent upon their daily (over)dose of coffee. It is also worth mentioning that Norwegians are one of the most coffee-drinking people in the world. In Oslo alone, it’s produced 10 tons of coffee grounds every day. We ask – do these coffee grounds become useless after the brewing process, or are they a resource that we don’t appreciate enough?


The Oslo-based company Gruten has taken on this challenge. They utilize what most people throw away, making a unique hand soap called “Grutensåpe” and a “grow-your-own-mushrooms” solution based on coffee grounds. The soap consists of olive oil, coconut oil, lavender oil and of course; coffee and coffee grounds. Gruten also offers courses teaching how to make soap and grow mushrooms at home (we are of course talking about tasty mushrooms for eating, and not getting high), and aims to share information on how to use a nutritious resource people think of as garbage. This might be “helping the process of composting, making nutritious soil, or using coffee grounds to fight the notorious brown snail that invade many gardens.” Their driving motivation is to be a positive role model and show people how it is possible to create exciting, sustainable products.



Gruten’s value proposition is simple – turning “waste” into ecological and sustainable products that people value and want to pay for. They capture value by selling products through their website and offering courses that people find interesting and alternative. In a way one might say that Gruten capture value in a sustainable way, by teaching customers not to throw away all of their coffee grounds. Gruten uses coffee grounds from the bakery chain “Godt Brød” in Oslo, securing their value delivering. In addition, the company’s leader, Siri Mittet, appears to be a devoted entrepreneur and a member of the “green” political party Miljøpartiet De Grønne, being an important resource for the company.

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What fascinated us most when reading about Gruten, is that it represents a shift in the mentality of people. It seems like a “low impact” initiative, but addresses important values and a way of living that will be neccessary when striving for a sustainable future. It’s a bottom-up approach to sustainability, fully utilizing and respecting the resources we are fortunate to enjoy. Gruten, as a small company in Oslo, shows that you don’t need to be a large enterprise in order to take sustainability seriously, and making a difference. A simple idea can make a simple product, which serves both our hands and the environment!


Want to read more?





What about housing?

by Kathinka

There are plentiful of deep rooted development challenges to be solved globally. This blog post is primarily directed to the developed world, and presents concerns about sustainable living, hereby housing.

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Zero-Emission Housing

It has been estimated that emissions from buildings counts for forty percent of the total global environmental contamination. In Norway, exciting projects are being initiated by The Research Center on Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB). Their vision is to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions caused by buildings. The government has passed the objective of having zero emission buildings as the standard within the next five years (though this might be a bit too ambitious, it is the direction in which the building industry is going). Energy efficiency must be taken into consideration at all stages in the building process, and advanced, environmentally friendly materials must be used. The buildings are built with energy supply systems and can even produce energy surplus. The first zero emission project in Norway is Zero Village Bergen which will lead to new standards when it comes to the building industry, also outside the country’s borders.

You can have a closer look at the project here, read about ZEB here and read about another ZEB pilot house following this link

(The zero emission house can be seen as an extension to passive houses. Here’s a 90 seconds video explaining what a passive house is

The cost of producing for example solar panels has dropped dramatically the last ten years ( Do you believe zero-emission houses will be prominent in the future?

Collaborative living

Kruse Smith has initiated another interesting building project called Gaining by Sharing. It takes a more holistic view, rethinking what a home can be. While Airbnb is the sharing economy’s answer to holiday accommodation, this may be the building industry’s response to collaborative consumption. It is a kind of shared housing: people have their own private apartment with everything they need, but the private spaces are smaller, and there are larger, shared spaces where people meet and hang out. It is meant for all kind of people, of various ages. As the private apartments are smaller, the price will be lower, making it easier for people to actually buy a home. Maybe it can be a healthy solution for the problem of loneliness among the elderly and the hassle for younger people to find a babysitter by coupling them together from time to time? Have a look at their website for a better understanding of the project:

Their business model is quite different from how companies have been thinking and operating in this industry. More square meters per person has been the trend for decades. Do you think people will appreciate living in a closer, more connected way like this? Will the benefits from having a social network outside your doorstep and access to other facilities exceed the cost that may be attributed to less privacy?


The upward spiral of outdoor sport brands’ responsibility

by Julie, Hans Olav and Jørn Erik

It is no secret that the outdoor life is an essential part of the Norwegian lifestyle. Deadly selfies and exchange students in jeans, or the people with always-new jackets, are indeed a part of it. However, many of us look at the outdoors as a place where we both can calm down and get new energy, or gear up and get the adrenaline pumping. Nevertheless, there is no denying that the mountains and the woods are areas worth preserving for ourselves and for future generations.

This complexity and responsibility inherited in the outdoor life is something that outdoor sport brands does not tread lightly on. Norwegian brands such as Bergans, Norrøna and Sweet protection all states that they are doing what they can to make long lasting products with as little environmental footprint as possible.

The Swedish outdoor sport brands’ attention on sustainability and preserving of nature are even more prominent. While Fjällräven has a dedicated CSR-portal describing their work along the entire supply chain of their products, the renowned brand Klättermusen originated from an idea of consuming better to save nature.

“(…) the search for gear that lasted a lifetime it suddenly turned into something bigger, where minimising the impact on the planet seemed like an intelligent, natural way to do business; less waste, save money, save nature.” -

We could go on quite a while mentioning other sport brands who share this ideology. American Patagonia might be the most known outside Scandinavia. What might surprise you is that none of these companies are suffering economically from paying so much attention to the environment and the re-using old equipment. Communicating and sharing the values of the consumers seems to add extra value to their products. This higher perceived value in turn makes it possible for the brands to keep taking a price premium on their product and further increase their focus on “saving the world”. As they achieve more on sustainability, their targeted consumer will perceive an even higher value from successful brands.

There is of course more into running a successful sports brand than a clear focus on sustainability. We do however believe that a consistent focus on sustainability is an important factor for delivering and capturing value, to and from consumers. We believe that there is an upward spiral of profits and environmental gains to be made from effective implementation and communication of responsibility and sustainability in this very close-to-nature industry.




A smartphone with social values


By Jens, Oskar and Emma


Would you replace your iPhone with the Fairphone?

If you haven’t heard about the Fairphone already, it is time to pay close attention. This Dutch social enterprise is changing the way mobile phones are being made. The Fairphone is an Android supporting smartphone made by conflict-free minerals. The production process aims to put social values first by ensuring good working conditions and decent pay for employees in the manufacturing. The Fairphone is also designed for longevity by being durable and containing parts that can easily be replaced by the consumer if something breaks. Thus, Fairphone addresses the circular lifespan of mobile phones, including use, reuse and safe recycling.


How does Fairphone make this possible?

The minerals and metals used in mobile phones often originate from the mining industry in areas of high-risk of conflict. This is a sector haunted by high pollution levels, dangerous working conditions, child labor, slavery, etc. Fairphone works directly with miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo to identify fairer and more transparent sources of minerals. Fairphone buys from local initiatives to increase employment for small-scale miners and strives to improve working conditions and worker’s rights, and to reduce environmental degradation caused by mining practices.


Fairphone also works closely with its manufactures in China. To improve work conditions, employees’ development of skills, and to raise wages, Fairphone built a Worker Welfare Fund where money is invested for each phone sold. Fairphone’s Take Back Program is established to ensure that old mobile phones are reused or properly recycled. The firm has partnered with recycling projects in Africa to improve local waste collection efforts, and also with repair communities like iFixit to improve longevity and reparability of its own product.


A social movement

As mentioned, Fairphone is not a normal enterprise. It is a social enterprise, and it started as a social campaign back in 2010 by a group of people who called for a more sustainable and ethical consumption pattern in the electronics industry. The possibility to preorder the phone has enabled Fairphone to be independent from external investor. This makes it possible to focus solely on what the customers want, allowing Fairphone to continue being the social movement it always has been. As they describe themselves, Fairphone is a movement for fairer electronics aiming to expand the market for products that put ethical values first. The community of Fairphone customers is known as We Are Fairphone.


Fairphone has proven the world that you can have the same quality and design, while still treat your workers fairly and produce in a sustainable manner. Their business model shows that you can actually have control over the whole value chain. So far, 60.000 Fairphones have been sold, and it is now possible to preorder the second edition, starting at €529. Are you ready to become part of the movement? #WeAreFairphone





by Benni, Bianca & Andrea

Most of manufacturing has traditionally been a “subtractive” process. Think about a sculpture, for instance, a large amounts of material is transported to a manufacturing site, where a large portion of it is cut away in order to shape the end product.

3D-printing is an “additive manufacturing techniques” instead, meaning it creates products by adding material, rather than cutting it away. Through this process the item is built in really thin layers from the bottom up. Each layer is a horizontal cross section of the digital 3D model of the item. As you can imagine, the major advantage is that the 3D-printer adds material only where it’s needed, resulting in very little waste (98% of the material is used in finished parts).

The earliest business application of this technology was the prototyping. However, as time went by, several different techniques of 3D-printing have been developed, and today many materials can be used, e.g. metal, ceramics, paper and plastic. This enables 3D-printing to be applied to many more applications and in a wide range of potential fields. Lot of companies are now even using it for the production of final goods or parts of them, which is called “Additive Manufacturing” and brings to:

  • Broader innovation – There are no design restrictions with 3D-printing because even items previosly considered too complex can be created in just one piece.
  • Lower energy intensity – This technique can save energy by deleting production steps. Remanufacturing parts, through advanced additive manufacturing and surface treatment processes, can return end-life products to as-new condition, using only 2−25% of the energy required to make new ones.
  • Less waste – As we have already said, building layer by layer instead than cutting away material or put it in a mold can reduce its need and cost by up to 90%.
  • Reduced time to market – The prototype can be built as as soon as the 3D model is created in a much cheaper way. So it is possible to fail earlier in the designing process and it is also easier to adjust the prototype though several tries.
  • Higher customization – Specific parts can be created on demand, reducing inventory costs and supply chains complexity, since almost every design is allowed.

All these advantages come from the “additive” aspect of this technology and are seen from a business point-of-view. However, today some type of 3D-printer is cheap enough to enter consumers’ home, most of them prints through a plastic filament. What is really interesting is that there are research projects which are developing processes to turn plastic waste into usable plastic filament, as shown in the following video:

Even if it is still a “prototype” of the recycling process, we can say that, in a near future, people will probably be able to create new utensils or objects directly at home (cost saving) literally using their own waste! It is of course not possible to quantify the environmental impact of such a revolution but… wouldn’t it be great?

You can read more about 3D-printing here:



Sustainable food, water and energy production

by Mykola, Christine and Victoria Engan Graham


Current Issues

In 2015, about 795 million people are undernourished globally according to The State of Food Insecurity in the World. As the world’s population is growing even further, the need for innovating food production is growing with it. One of the problems with growing food is the use of another scarce resource: water. 738 million people did not have access to clean water in 2013, and almost 2.3 billion did not have access to adequate sanitation. Moreover, more food productions normally mean that more water is used.


Another alarming fact is that the World Energy Outlook 2014 shows that nearly 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and 2.7 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking, which causes harmful indoor air pollution.


Sahara Forest Project

The idea behind the Sahara Forest Project is taking what we have enough of to create what we need more of. They use deserts, sunlight, saltwater and CO2 to produce food, water and clean energy. By using existing technologies with an innovating idea, they hope to solve some massive problems and still be profitable for their owners.


The name Sahara Forest Project comes from the name of the famous Sahara desert, which is the largest hot desert in the world. Also, Sahara in Arabic means “desert” which is quite symbolic for the Project that tries to grow plants in the area where it’s almost impossible.


Current Project

Right now Sahara Forest Project is focused on the development of the new technologies in the deserts of Jordan and Qatar. But what are they planning to do there? Basically, huge hi-tech plant that uses saltwater, which after a few complicated processes becomes distilled water. And then water is used to irrigate plants. Sounds pretty simple if not taking into account the fact that the plant is located in the middle of the desert.



With the plant like this they can grow tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other crops. The project is happening right and we crossed fingers for its success.




Eating bugs – a problem free philosophy?

by Mari, Erik, Ruben and Erik

The consumption of meat in the world is increasing rapidly. This represent a negative impact on the environment as it leads to growth in an extremely polluted production industry. Producing 1 kg of beef leads to an emission of approximately 16 kg CO2 and requires between 15000 litres of water. In comparison, the emission is 0,3 kg and the water required is 500-4000 when producing the same amount of vegetables. Studies shows that giving up beef could reduce carbon footprint more than cars! Finding substitutes to meat could potentially reduce the demand for meat, and a reduction in production would follow. This could have huge positive environmental effects.

Vegetarian and vegans worldwide nourishing themselves on chickpeas, lentils, beans and vegetables. Meat lovers are of the opinion that these are not good enough substitutes as they do not contain the same level of nutrition and because they do not fulfill criterion when it comes to taste and texture. The meat loving world is in other words demanding substitutes with that are more nutritious and have better taste, and in this blogpost we would like to introduce an alternative that already plays a role in some (less wealthy) countries cuisines. We introduce to you – bugs as meat!


The UN have recommended that businesses should start selling and producing more insects for food purpose. Producing food from insects are a more sustainable alternative as the production is not nearly as polluted as meat production because it requires less processing. Insects contain approximately the same amount of proteins and other nutritions and is claimed to have a taste closer to different kinds of meat. A more insect targeted production could therefore be a closer substitute to meat and therefore contribute to solving both pollution and hunger problems the world face today.
Could this represent a good business opportunity? Some companies (for example the Belgian food retailer Delhaize) have already seen the potential and implemented insects in their food production, but it’s still not widespread and there is no doubt that it is possible to exploit this opportunity in a greater extent. The big question is whether consumers are ready to implement insects in their diet. On the one hand people in general are skeptical to eating things they don’t consider food, on the other hand people are getting more and more “green” and open minded. If insects are implemented in the diet step by step it could perhaps be considered as a “normal” part of a diet in the future.

What do you think? Is the world ready to start eating bugs? Are you ready?