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The cool companies making it easier to go green

Words: Anne-Marie Hoeve

Photos: Ken Hermann

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From mobility to fashion to food, these companies offer a helping hand when it comes to going green. They came together at Copenhagen’s recent Tomorrow Festival – a new event dedicated to creating a more sustainable future – and 5 spoke to them to find out more.

lili dreyer of wair, still from video


Who: Lili Dreyer, founder
What: Sustainable sneakers made from textile waste
Why: Less than 1% of all textiles produced are recirculated back into the fashion system
How: “We’re trying to make textile upcycling scaleable. The upper part of the shoe is made from jeans that we get from the Salvation Army. Often they have a hole or a stain and can no longer be worn. This way, we can still use the fabric to make something new. We make the inner lining from old hotel tablecloths. The soles are made from 70% recycled rubber (and 30% virgin rubber). We really try to go through every single step and see how we can make it as sustainable as possible, right down to the laces, which are made of recycled cotton. It’s also super important to us that we’re not just environmentally sustainable, but that we also focus on the social side when it comes to how the shoes are made. We produce them in Portugal. The factory employs 80 people and we’ve been there many times. They’re the only factory we could find in Europe that was willing to work with upcycled textile waste.”

Lili Dreyer (middle) turns old denim into trendy new sneakers.

Wair sneakers are designed to upcycle textiles that would otherwise go to waste.

“We believe discarded textiles deserve a second chance”

Lili Dreyer


Who: Marie Lykkebo Dreier, chief marketing officer
What: Carpooling commuter app
Why: To cut back on traffic and CO2 emissions
How: “We’re helping people from smaller communities get to and from work everyday through  shared rides. With our app you can either offer a space in your car on your regular commute, or find someone going your way with a seat to spare. You pay a fixed price per kilometre and the money goes straight to the driver offering their seats. We want people to buy less cars and make use of existing rides. Around 19 out of 20 cars on the road daily in Denmark only have one person in the car. So by driving together we can get less traffic jams, less CO2 emissions and we can help local communities to become more mobile. We work with municipalities and transport companies to offer better mobility, primarily in the countryside – where public transport is limited. This year we’ve already enabled 10,000 journeys. A lot of people get to know each other while driving to and from work together and keep travelling with the same people. We’re based in Denmark but have just launched in the Netherlands, and are launching in Sweden soon. We want ride sharing to become normal. It’s an add-on to not eating too much meat and all of the other things we can do.”

Marie Lykkebo Dreier hopes to work with municipalities across Europe to make carpooling the norm for our daily commute into the city.

“Everyone should be driving together, it’s a really practical way to do something for the environment”

Marie Lykkebo Dreier, Nabogo


Who: Torben Damgaard Nielsen, co-founder
What: Bicycle cargo delivery service
Why: An emission-free alternative to trucks and vans
How: “Our ambition is to create a sustainable bike-based distribution network for modern cities, to replace diesel delivery vans. We’re seeing how we can create a model of small distribution centres where goods are delivered and bikes distribute them into the neighbourhood. Replacing vans with bikes has an instant effect on CO2 emissions and particulate matter [air pollution]. This is something that’s needed in every city around the world. You also have less traffic, less noise and you get employees that are exercising while they’re working. It’s a matter of getting to the point where we can export this model to any city. When you look at the bigger scale, you can have a massive impact.”

“There’s no emission from a bike”

Torben Damgaard Nielsen, Chainge


Who: Carolin Schiemer, co-founder
What: Wonky fruit and veg subscription service
Why: To cut down on food waste
How: “We are a platform for ugly or surplus fruit and veg, bringing to the market what farmers can’t sell because of supermarket ‘beauty standards’. Cucumbers have to be straight and of a certain size for stores to stock them. The idea that aesthetics define quality is outdated in an age where we have people to feed and climate change is knocking our door. About one third of all food produced globally goes to waste. We work directly with farmers that are otherwise left with tons of food. It started as a business school project and since launching in 2018, we’ve saved 800 tons of food. The name comes from the Danish word for ‘ugly’, which is ‘grim’.”

Photo: Eat Grim

Crooked fruit or veg? For Carolin Schiemer that’s no problem. She sells the leftover crops that regular supermarkets don’t accept.

“All change matters”

Carolin Schiemer, Eat Grim

5 is a media partner of Tomorrow Festival. Find out more about the festival experience in our article exploring how change can be fun.