For every big, ugly, scary challenge in sustainability, there’s a brilliant person dreaming up a new solution. Mountains of unwanted scrap fabric? There’s a website — and a blockchain — for that. Corporate rules that require a throw-away mindset? Somebody’s on top of it. Streets that are fine-tuned for cars rather than people? It can be fixed — with data.

Every year, the Grist 50 highlights emerging leaders who are working toward a more sustainable and equitable future. These five technologists are tinkering away at the fixes that will solve big problems:

  1. As the national director of the Right to Repair campaign, Nathan Proctor seeks to give consumers better options for fixing their busted tech, rather than simply throwing it all in a landfill.
  2. Combining sensors and analytics, Tara Pham’s startup, Numina, can tell cities exactly who uses their streets and how — providing granular data for pedestrian-friendly planning.
  3. Chemist Tony Bova is cooking up a way to use waste products from the paper industry to make a new kind of bioplastic that degrades after use.
  4. At Sunrun, engineer Audrey Lee worked on figuring out how to remap the grid to create a virtual power plant of networked car batteries, home solar panels, and other distributed sources.
  5. Stephanie Benedetto’s blockchain-enabled startup, Queen of Raw, matches fabric buyers and sellers to redirect some $120 billion worth of excess textiles — generated by the apparel industry every year — away from landfills and toward reuse.

There are 45 other folks doing great work on our list! Read about all of them on the 2020 Grist 50.

Fix thanks its sponsors. Become one.