Entrepreneurs across the Pacific Northwest are creating unique technologies and products that are helping to fight climate change and create resilience to climate challenges. Here are just a few of the companies that VertueLab, a Portland-based nonprofit, has supported that are devoting their missions to ensure we have a safe planet to live on for generations. 

Wheyward Spirit

About: It takes 10 pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheese - this leaves 9 pounds of excess cheese whey that needs to go somewhere. This excess whey causes a huge challenge for cheese makers. That’s why Wheyward Spirit created a high-quality spirit distilled from whey. Through their natural, proprietary fermentation and distillation process they have created a remarkably smooth spirit with a sippable flavor unlike anything on the market.

Climate Impact: By sourcing whey directly from dairies, Wheyward Spirit helps keep the food waste out of landfills and waterways. This eliminates the greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental hazards that such dumping would cause. In addition, the creation of Wheyward Spirit uses less water than traditional distilling.

VertueLab Support: VertueLab supported Emily (the founder of Wheyward Spirit) early on as she took her business from the university lab to market. After participating in our accelerator program, VertueLab awarded Emily with two prototyping grants which funded extensive R&D, blind taste tests, and more. Additionally, VertueLab has provided Wheyward Spirit a paid intern to help the company with marketing and communication needs as they launched. And through our federal grant program, VertueLab helped Emily win over $100,000 dollars in federal funding.

Leapfrog Design

About: LeapFrog Design is a modular, easy-to-install, affordable greywater (non-sewage wastewater) recycling system that also includes the ecological beauty – and purification power – of wetland plants. Their system empowers families to re-use laundry or shower water for extended non-potable use.

Climate Impact: By recycling greywater from everyday household use, LeapFrog is reducing dependency on municipal water utilities and helping communities become drought resilient by reducing household water usage by up to 75%.

VertueLab Support: LeapFrog Design participated in our 2020 accelerator program and we are currently assisting the company through the application process of presenting at the 2020 and 2021 Bend Venture Conference. Additionally, VertueLab assisted the company in applying for a federal grant which if awarded, would help them optimize their product and get it ready for commercialization.

The Renewal Workshop

About: The Renewal Workshop partners with brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Pottery Barn, and PrAna to take their discarded apparel and textiles and turn them into Renewed products, upcycled materials, or recycling feedstock. The Renewal Workshop then sells these goods at a discounted price on their website, giving garments a second life.

Climate Impact: By giving new life to used products, The Renewal Workshop reduces the need for thousands of new products. These new products would have resulted in 313 tons of CO2 emissions and 91 million gallons of water used by the fashion industry. Additionally, their company has diverted over 284,000 pounds of waste from going into the landfill.

VertueLab Support: VertueLab started working with the co-founders of Renewal Workshop, Nicole Basset and Jeff Denby, in 2016 when they were in the midst of raising their Seed Round. Together with OMEP (Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership) VertueLab provided a large grant which was instrumental in launching their operations. VertueLab followed up in 2017 with an additional commitment to pay a consulting group to do a strategic project for the company. 

Learn more about how you can help support these entrepreneurs and climate solutions.

 

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