101 Sustainability Inspirations In Cincinnati

To commemorate Earth Day, we’ve assembled a list of 101 Sustainability Inspirations In Cincinnati.

Greater Cincinnati is a case study in what’s possible in addressing sustainability — from zero waste and solar power to tackling plastics. Startups, diverse entrepreneurs, city governments, community groups, colleges and universities, and mega-influential corporates are all converging in unique ways around these mega-challenges. 

Our goal is to let innovators and entrepreneurs know, we will do everything possible to support your game-changing idea or ambition. Short of that, we hope you draw inspiration from these ideas in your own pursuit of a better, more sustainable world. Click here to join the conversation. 

101 Ways Cincinnati Is Leading Sustainability

  1. Cincinnati was named the nation’s Most Sustainable City by Site Selection magazine (2018, 2019), ahead of Seattle, San Diego, and LA. The City ranked #2 in 2020. 
  2. The World Wildlife Fund recently touted Cincinnati’s environmental and sustainability efforts, including among vulnerable communities. They also praised transit initiatives, bike trails, and electric vehicle support.
  3. Cincinnati’s sustainability leadership is the subject of a Newsy documentary entitled “Modern Metropolis: Preparing Today’s Cities for Tomorrow’s Challenges.”  
  4. Cincinnati’s Central Business district is one of North America’s 2030 Districts, a network of healthy, high-performing, sustainable buildings
  5. 80 Acres Farms recently launched one of the first fully automated — and sustainable — indoor farms in the world, powered by LED lighting, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
  6. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the Greenest Zoo’s in America and continues to lead the way in sustainability and green initiatives that are recognized nationwide.
  7. The 2018 Green Cincinnati Plan is built around 80 strategies to nearly eliminate the city’s carbon emissions over three decades.
  8. Mayor John Cranley and the City Council made Cincinnati a “Top 100” U.S. city to commit to carbon neutrality by 2035.
  9. Cincinnati is one of 25 Cities selected to participate in the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge.
  10. Organizations like Green Umbrella are pushing sustainability leadership at multiple levels, including sponsoring the upcoming Midwest Sustainability Summit.
  11. 80 Acres Farms sister company Infinite Acres is exporting its vertical farming tech and know-how to Europe via a joint venture with Ocado and Priva.
  12. Cincinnati is home to Donovan Energy, a clean energy project development company that approaches energy in new ways to help reduce energy use and save money
  13. Local startup Electrada is a fast-growing early mover in best-in-class electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for corporate, municipal, and community partners.
  14. We’re home to Responsible Products, a line of compostable and biodegradable products made from plants. They have released over 70 SKUs in the last year.
  15. Startup GoSun is a 2021 Recipient of CES Honors in Sustainability, Eco Design, and Smart Energy. Products range from cooler and stoves to solar-powered coffee makers.
  16. Cincinnati is home to Last Mile Food Rescue — the “Uber” of food waste — designed to divert safe and healthy food going into landfills to families that need it.
  17. Cincinnati-based Lightship Capital is an investor in FreshFry, a product that replenishes and extends the life of frying oil. The FreshFry Pod uses natural ingredients and includes plant-based components.
  18. The Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub recently led in partnership with Cintrifuse and HCDC the first-ever Sustainability Accelerator (“SustainableCincy”). Graduates include BeeTheKeeper, Naturally Homegrown, Our Harvest Cooperative, Swrm, Transmissions, Urban Farming Initiative, Cincinnati Recycling, and Reuse Hub.
  19. CVG airport is supporting local startup Dropwater by installing water bottle refill stations or allowing consumers to purchase 100% compostable containers in their concourses
  20. HCDC’s Searen is the leading the region in aquaculture tech and efficiencies for clean seafood production.
  21. Our major corporations — Procter & Gamble, Fifth Third, Kroger, Cintas, Kao, Amazon Air, DHL, KAO, Duke, Cincinnati Bell, PNC, First Financial, FIS Global — are making unprecedented “step change” commitments the sustainability area. 
  22. Cincinnati’s P&G, the world’s largest advertiser, just launched a global sustainability campaign, It’s Our Home, to show how small actions can have a significant impact. 
  23. Cincinnati based Kroger — the largest grocery chain in the United States — has set a moonshot goal to eliminate hunger and food waste in every Kroger community worldwide – by 2025! 
  24. Mother Jones: The Biggest Municipal Solar Farm in the US Is Coming to…Cincinnati?
  25. Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen: “The plastic shopping bag’s days are numbered.”
  26. CVG, the nation’s fastest growing cargo hub, is pioneering a bold sustainability vision.
  27. Fifth Third Bank is the first Fortune 500 company to achieve 100% renewable power through a single solar project. The bank will also invest $8 billion in environmental sustainability over the next five years. 
  28. Duke Energy was named one of America’s top sustainability companies for the 15th straight year in a row.
  29. Amazon is exploring providing Amazon planes with Sustainable/Green Aviation Fuel to cut carbon emissions by 22%: (Amazon Prime Air is headquartered at CVG.)
  30. The City of Cincinnati’s LEED Platinum Net-Zero district police headquarters consumes 50% less energy than traditional facilities of the same size, making it a contender to be one of the greenest buildings in Ohio.
  31. P&G CEO David Taylor is chair of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, an industry group that’s committed more that $1 Billion to eliminate pollution in the ocean and elsewhere. Link. He also anchored a session on sustainability at the 2021 World Economic Forum.
  32. Cincinnati is home to Workhorse, one of the largest electric-powered delivery and utility vehicle providers in the US. 
  33. Electrada is partnering with Cincinnati Zoo to install EV charging stations for all their EV needs.
  34. Local startup Single Phase Power Solutions is creating a nationwide energy source for EV charging stations.
  35. P&G pledged in 2010 to have 70% of all washing machine load’s low energy wash cycles by 2020. They hit the goal in 2019.  
  36. The community launched WarmUp Cincy, a series of energy equity programs for multi-family buildings to reduce household energy burden by 10%. 
  37. Amazon Partnered with CVG Airport as a major distribution hub and is switching all land carrier delivery to net zero emissions by 2040
  38. Fifth Third has provided roughly $4 billion in lending and capital-raising services for renewable energy projects since 2012. 
  39. Melink Corporation, headquartered in Milford, OH, is a global provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for commercial buildings. 
  40. Cincinnati is the top 20 American cities with LEED-certified buildings and 6th in the number of industry sectors aligned with CleanTech. 
  41. Nearly 80% of the recommendations of the region’s RESTART economic development plan on “Supply Chain & New Commerce” involve sustainable solutions, from last mile “tech future of freight” delivery to radically transparent packaging solutions. 
  42. VC fund CincyTech is exploring medical device disposables. Portfolio company Losant provides “smart building” IoT solutions to manage heating/cooling costs, and enable remote monitoring of machines to avoid wasted fuel or power consumption. 
  43. Rumpke Waste & Recycling customers can recycle empty food containers and tubs.
  44. Cincinnati now has three #Zero Waste refillery shops — Fill More Waste Less, Koko, Simply Zero — all designed to prevent waste by encouraging consumers to bring their own containers, jars, and bottles. 
  45. Kroger just allocated $2.5 million in grants for their latest “Zero Hunger, Zero Waste” pitch competition. Link
  46. The Cincinnati Zoo has plans to become the first zero-waste facility in the country
  47. Sustainability will be an anchor of the forthcoming $550 million Nestle Purina pet food plant in nearby Williamsburg. This includes a commitment to send zero waste for disposal and production processes designed to recover and reuse heat and water. 
  48. The Nestle Purina plant is also targeting 100 percent powered by renewable electricity in the shortest practical timeframe while supporting the company’s ambition for zero environmental impact in company operations by 2030. #ProudAlum
  49. Cincinnati’s Bee the Keeper startup recently won the FlyWheel Sustainability Challenge Accelerator. (Congrats, Brandon!)
  50. Kao Brands (US headquarters are in Cincinnati) plan on using 100% renewable resources by 2025
  51. Non-profit startup fund and catalyst Main Street Ventures is supporting Eden Urban Farms to promote urban, organic & sustainable farming in Cincinnati’s urban core. 
  52. Cincinnati is part of a national initiative, Beyond34, looking to dramatically boost recycling rates.
  53. A passionate team of Xavier University students is leading the fight against ocean plastics with Clean Earth Rovers, a water-borne vehicle that collects plastic waste in harbors. Think “Plastics Pirahna.” The product is being tested today! 
  54. Cincinnati-based Kroger, the largest grocery in the US, will phase out plastic bags over the next four years. It will instead offer shoppers paper or reusable bags for a small fee.
  55. Purecycle, the chemical recycler for plastics drawing on licensed tech from P&G, went public on Nasdaq and is planning a major production facility on the Ohio River. 
  56. Mercy Bon Secours hospital is exploring a polypropylene “down-cycling” initiative with a major CPG company in the neighborhood.
  57. Procter and Gamble is working with Terracycle Loop to launch refillable packaging.
  58. P&G’s Head and Shoulders brand created the world’s first recyclable shampoo bottle made of recycled beach plastic. 
  59. The Newport Aquarium is playing a key role with aquatic organizations throughout the US in #FirstStep campaign to remove plastics including plastic straws from the Ocean.
  60. Metal Litter Gitter is set out by Mill Creek alliance to intercept plastics before reaching the river
  61. Kroger is teaming up with Target and retailing giants to find a replacement for the widely criticized single-use plastic shopping bag via Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, a venture launched by Closed Loop Partners. Link
  62. To ensure 100% of packaging will be recyclable or reusable by 2030, P&G’s Crest and Oral-B brands recently announced a transition to high-density polyethylene (HDPE) tubes. HDPE provides the same product protection as current 
  63. P&G recently launched refillable antiperspirant cases that eliminate single-use plastics for its well-known deodorant brands. The company’s Secret and Old Spice brands are now offered with an aluminum-free formulation and in recyclable paper tube packaging 
  64. HCDC’s Water Warriors use tech to capture agricultural runoff from local waterways made of 90% recycled paperboard, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  65. Cincinnati company Michelman, which has made sustainability a core element of its company purpose, are global innovators in post-plastic packaging.
  66. Kroger is partnering with Terra-Cycle to offer customers a free and simple way to recycle the flexible packaging of more than 300 products from its private-label Simple Truth brand (among the largest natural and organic brands in the US). Link
  67. Cincinnati is home to TrueChoicePack — focused on biodegradable packaging solutions — one of the fastest growing companies in Ohio and the United States.  
  68. P&G’s Tide brand seeks to reduce the use of virgin plastic by 50% over the next decade. 
  69. Innovation group Innovation Girls is dedicated to youth solutions on sustainable products and packaging. They received an honorary mention and cash prize award in Kroger’s first #ZeroHunger/ZeroWaste business challenge.  
  70. Cintrifuse will host Repackaging The Future Conference in July 2021. Register here
  71. JM Smucker’s Folgers brand (a Cintrifuse partner/investor) is testing bold “transparency in packaging” solutions integration with Farmer Connect.  
  72. Local, large-pack packaging company ProAmpac launched a line of sustainable products last year.
  73. Venture Capital firm Material Impact (a Cintrifuse investment) is “democratizing water by pulling it out of thin air” via its portfolio company Source.co.
  74. 80 Acres Farms is producing local food crops with 85% less water.  
  75. Procter & Gamble, as part of its efforts to address its total water footprint, is spearheading the 50L Home Coalition, where it is working with Electrolux, Kohler, Engie, Suez and Arcadis, the World Bank Group, WBCSD, and the World Economic Forum to develop radical solutions to the urban water crisis.
  76. The Environmental Protection Agency boasts a major R&D laboratory in Cincinnati. The office is a technical anchor for Confluence, the Water Technology Innovation Cluster that’s drawing companies and top talent to the region.
  77. Mill Creek Alliance is working with Coca-Cola to keep local waterways clean
  78. The Cincinnati Zoo has saved over a BILLION gallons of water since 2006. The Zoo leverages 30,000 square feet of pervious pavement to allow the storage thousands of gallons of storm-water at a time
  79. HCDC Business Director, Antony Seppi, ran local accelerator Pipeline H2O which launched many sustainable blue-tech initiatives.
  80. The University of Cincinnati, Xavier, Miami, and Northern Kentucky University are powerful engines of innovation, growing new generations of sustainability leaders.
  81. Miami has invested in geothermal and built more than 29 LEEDS buildings. They decreased energy budgets by more than 50% in a decade.
  82. Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU) highly innovative Informatics program is enabling students to thrive in today’s age of digital transformation — and blending that focus with its emphasis on health and environmental sciences.  
  83. Xavier University students have created an IoT platform for sensing and tracing wildfires: Environmental Solution Technologies
  84. The new UC Lindner School or Business is already receiving awards for sustainability innovation. Sustainable design and materials employed in the new Lindner Hall are 35% below what would be expected in terms of annual energy use, saving $165,000 annually
  85. NKU has one of the fastest growing Supply Chain degree programs which encompasses sustainability, carbon-neutral transportation systems and beyond 
  86. UC recently launched an environmental literacy certificate, and their fast-growing 1819 Innovation Hub provides maker space for sustainability entrepreneurs. 
  87. Miami University’s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability is educating new generations of environment scientists and sustainability leaders.
  88. A UC DAAP alumni made huge sustainability waves with new shoe brand: Allbirds
  89. First-year student Taylor Shockley is generating national buzz upcycling old fashion materials at Miami University
  90. The Miami University Institute Farm  encourages consumers to buy locally grown fresh produce Farm program invites families to join produce share
  91. NKU’s Center for Environmental Restoration is focusing on the restoration of Kentucky water streams and wetlands. The initiative has launched 86 restoration projects at 30 different locations preserving over 4,000 acres of wetlands. 
  92. UC DAAP Alumni Curt Wilson of BRP Sea-Doo brands has partnered with local Marina Robotics company Clean Earth Rovers
  93. UC is a nationally recognized STARS Gold Campus, as awarded by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
  94. P&G’s Tide brand reduced its absolute greenhouse gas emissions in the direct manufacturing of its products by more than 75% annually (versus in 2010). 
  95. Cincinnati’s Urban Farming Initiative is reinventing how and where we grow food.
  96. Fifth Third Bank recently joined a partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials to understand and measure its own climate impact.  
  97. Local construction companies including Neyer and Messer are leading their industries with the development of sustainable buildings, manufacturing, and materials.
  98. Fast-growing MadTree Brewing has committed itself to be a sustainable and responsibly friendly brewery. They recently launched a campaign to give back a percentage of profits to sustainability non-profits. 
  99. The City of Cincinnati’s  “open data” sandlot makes recycling data available to entrepreneurs to develop or “hack” solutions for the city. 
  100. In 2020, Cincinnati and Duke Energy (Ohio) announced a grant program incentivizing multi-family building owners to make efficient capital upgrades to have deeper energy savings. 
  101. Rhinegeist Brewery recently executed two wastewater projects, boosted recycling, and boasts a Charitable Suds program that donates.

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