westminster’s new eco-apprentices ..

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As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010, Ecomodo was invited by Westminster City Council to participate in the “Eco-bag Enterprise Challenge” at Westminster City Boys School. The purpose of the event was to challenge the students of Year 8, to think about sustainability both in terms of the environment and a business – not an easy task.

In true “Apprentice” style and in teams of 4 – 5 boys, their challenge was to create an eco-friendly bag company and produce a new design for a reusable bag. Given a budget of up to £300 the students had to: understand why reusable bags were important; choose team roles for each member of the group; understand and describe their target customer; and work out their finances to deliver the design they wanted within budget. On top of this, the boys had to deliver a pitch back to the class with the best ‘company’ winning a prize – for boys aged 12-13 – the stakes were high.

The day commenced with a talks from our hosts (the Westminster Education Business Partnership) who outlined the activities of the challenge and Corinne Dickinson from Waste Watch who gave the students insights into the environmental issues surrounding plastic bags on which theys were to be quizzed. Corinne also mentioned that “plastic bags are only for 12 minutes of their lifetime” – the same as a drill I thought.

We then split into groups and as a “business mentor”, I was given a team to work with who called their company “Stars in the Making” – and they certainly were.

Whilst talking about plastic bags and shopping they made an observation that sports shops, unlike supermarkets, were still quite happily giving plastic bags to customers. So they focused their idea around a reusable sports bag that was purchased alongside goods from sporting outlets. Aimed at teenaged boys to young men and promoting becoming a “star” of sport, the bag could then be reused by the customer every time they went to the gym or played football. At the end of the day, the whole bag, including dirty sports gear (minus shoes), could be thrown in the washing machine to be cleaned and ready to reuse.

During the pitches, I was thoroughly amazed at the creativity of the students who alongside the re-usable sports bag, came up with reusable bags for christmas and wonderful slogans like “Save tomorrow today”.

Alongside Corinne from Waste Watch and myself, other business mentors volunteered their time from: Loop, GreenLondon.net, SEED, Healthy Planet, The Do Nation and we all had a truly inspired time at Westminster City School.

For me, this initiative from Westminster City Council, brings together the big issues that face our society today; how do we live environmentally within our means, re-build our economy and create business that are sustainable in every sense of the word. To educate and focus these young minds on the problems of today – can only help to provide us with young, smart, eco-minded entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

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