Posts Tagged ‘event’

‘green’ dragon’s den ..

May 10, 2011

On my journey to Northwood College, North London, I had a wee trip down memory lane as my train passed Harrow College (now The University of Westminster), where Meriel and I first met. Extremely honoured to be asked to participate as a ‘green’ dragon at Northwood College, it felt strangely apt to be passing by my old college where my design career started – en route to judge the pupil’s designs and innovations.

Over the past few years, Jane Simister, Director of the school’s Cognitive Development Programme, has organised the INVENT competition and this year decided to give it an environmental twist. It’s just one of the ways in which the school seeks innovative ways of transforming how teachers teach and learners learn.  Their aim is to tackle the problem of passive thinking that so often comes from an over-emphasis on grades and to address issues that can sometimes hold girls back from achieving their full potential.

Jane Simister says “Through the INVENT competition, we’re trying to encourage our girls to see, from an early age, that they can play an active part in transforming the world around them. This year, we thought we’d try something new and adopt an environmental theme, making it a ‘Green Dragons’ Den’.  This raises the challenge, but I have my fingers crossed that the girls will come up with some ingenious ideas!”

On arriving at the school I was promptly mic’d up and alongside Charlie Brown, IKEA‘s UK Corporate Environment Manager, Victoria Atherstone, CEO of Love2scoot and Jane Langley Director of Cool it World, took my seat on stage as proceedings began.

First up, were 10 projects from the junior girls, followed by the 5 senior entrants. Just like the TV series, our role as dragons was to hear a 2-minute pitch from each team and then quiz the girls about their innovations. Completely unperturbed they confidently and concisely answered our questions: How they came up with the idea; Whether they knew of any similar inventions already out there; Who their potential customers might be; and of course why their idea was ‘green’.

With being in the business of preventing waste through inspiring communities to share, my focus was to spot simple ideas that either had the potential to augment an existing product, or that had multiple applications or uses. I’m so pleased there were many to choose from.

The extremely high standard of the ideas and entertaining presentations made it difficult to choose overall winners. I found it incredible that during our ‘secret’ dragon discussions to name the winner, not only were we talking about how engaging and thorough the pitches were, we were also throwing around comments about market opportunities and patent potential. But we had to make a decision.

The winners with four dragons ..

From the juniors, the first place was awarded to the youngest entrants, Maya Patel and Anya Sumaria from Year 3, who designed G-Power: an ingenious way to generate wind power, by using fans in the grills of cars, that could also be fixed to houses, lamp posts and a whole host of other things! Runners-up were Nicole Li and Serena Hart (stepping in for Shreya Malhotra) from Year 4, with their ‘Solar Beach Parasol’ – a fantastic gadget that uses solar energy to provide the electricity to charge cameras, laptops and MP3 players.

From the seniors, the first place went to Nikkita Mitchell in Year 11, for ‘Aquarius’, an innovative device to help families in less developed countries gather and filter the water that they need. Runners-up were Jenny Spencer and Priti Swamy from Year 8, whose ‘Chip ‘n’ Plant’ technology could be just what gardeners and farmers have been waiting for to help you ‘grow your own’.

The winners next stop is to present their pitch to IKEA, then on to the Houses of Parliament! Is there no stopping them?

I think all of the girls that participated should be congratulated as in my eyes as they are all winners. It’s not easy to come up with a new idea; yet they all succeeded to bring together coherent and well-thought through stories and to articulate their individual ideas through such delightful presentations. Many of the innovations had real market potential but in the end we had to be strict with the ‘green’ credentials. I do feel however a special mention needs to go to two other projects: Switch’n’sense (a fun reminder to switch your lights off) and The multi-drip (a tactile, gestural tap to save water) as they were also big favourites with the Dragons but we had a limited amount of prizes to award.

I’d like to thank Jane and the other teachers at Northwood college for an fantastic evening. It’s great to see your hard work paying off with such amazing talent coming out of Northwood College – well done!

Images borrowed from: Northwood College


frolicking at UK Aware 2011 ..

March 29, 2011

Just recovering from a couple of fun and hectic days in London, exhibiting at UK Aware, Britain’s largest green and ethical lifestyle show.

This year for our stand we decided to borrow lots of things from some of our lenders in London. It was so wonderful to nip around London, meeting our members and picking up some super stuff including a sewing machine, bass guitar, Brompton bike and Gucci bag. At the show, we signed up a whole bunch of new members, interestingly of which, 44% had travelled to the show from outside London and 72% were women.

Perhaps next year we should choose to borrow and display – a few more ‘boys toys’ – Any suggestions?

Check out our Facebook page for more photos.

westminster’s new eco-apprentices ..

November 18, 2010

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,, 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.

ecomodo wins a green apple award ..

November 16, 2010

Yesterday at the Houses of Parliament, Ecomodo was awarded the prestigious ‘Green Apple Bronze Award’ for Best Environmental Practice in the Community.

Presented, this year, by Raleigh Addington, Operations Director for the charitable organisation ‘Tickets For Troops‘, Meriel and I felt very privileged to collect the award on behalf of our team and for Ecomodo to be recognised so early on for its achievements. We hope this is a great sign of great things to come.

From over 500 nominations, Ecomodo was selected for the award, alongside other diverse projects from large organisations in both public and private sector to small community projects and everything in between. The assortment of projects was overwhelming but all had one thing in common: to help do their bit for a greener tomorrow.

For 16 years, the International Green Apple Environment Awards have been run by The Green Organisation – an independent, non-political, non-activist, non-profit environment group dedicated to recognising, rewarding and promoting environmental best practice around the world. The Green Organisation is funded by membership and sponsorship, with valuable support from the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, the Municipal Journal and several other professional bodies.

To see photos of the event check out our facebook page.

collaborative consumption – a new market ?

October 26, 2010


Collaborative consumption is a fledgling market traversing many sectors from transport, retail and banking to name a few.

At an event at Nesta last week, Rachel Botsman talked about her upcoming book “What’s mine is yours” and described collaborative consumption as falling into 3 distinct groups.

Product service systems Paying for the use of a product as opposed to owning it. (Streetcar, Whipcar, Barclays Cycle Hire, Liftshare, GoCarShare, Lovefilm, Whipbikes, ecomodo)

Redistribution markets redistributing used and pre-owned goods to someone who wants them (Freegle, Ebay, Big Wardrobe, JumbleAid, Lourish, Gumtree, Swishing)

Collaborative lifestyles The sharing swapping and bartering of time, space, skills and money (Zopa, Crashpadder, Landshare, Sponsume, ecomodo)

She outlined why the time is ripe for a market in sharing to flourish and illustrated 4 distinct trends:

  • Pressing unresolved environmental concerns
  • Global recession that has fundamentally shocked consumer behaviour
  • A renewed belief in the importance of community
  • A torrent of social technologies that enables scalability of services

Three years ago we also anticipated the convergence of these trends and they were one of the triggers that started us on our journey to build Ecomodo.

Understanding that the growth of social activity on the web would continue and act as an enabler, we realised we needed to find alternative ways to inspire and motivate people to change their behaviour.

Through user-centered research we indentified: the growing focus towards the environment; the increase in social values; and a move towards austerity appearing across different sectors within local communities. We choose to use these trends as an approach for a motivational model. From here, we developed the notion of lending for free, a fee or for charity as a way to reach diverse groups that can live geographically very close within our cities, towns and villages.

Other key topics from the talk were on the importance of brand and trust. Brand plays a critical role in the adoption of collaborative consumption services. Brand is the reason “hotels do not call themselves places for ‘bed sharing'”. Brand can provide trust through transparency and dialogue as well as weed of bad behaviour.

Interesting quotes from the talk.

6 of of 10 people in the UK do not know their neighbours names

80% of the things we own get used less than once a month

29 million cars in the UK sit not used for 23 hours of the day

See the Full video of the event at Nesta.

Further reading: Kevin Kelly (Wired Magazine) “Access is better than ownership

10:10:10 .. what will you be doing ?

August 5, 2010

We’re supporting 10:10:10 to equip people to make a difference! The environmental charity 10:10 has joined forces with to inspire people around the world to do a positive action on October 10 2010. On this day, thousands individuals, schools, businesses and other organisations will take simple steps to save energy and reduce their emissions. Do something good on 10:10:10 and find out how we can help.

beyond recycling ..

July 12, 2010

Mrs Gill Hickman, a teacher from Ringwood School school in Hampshire initiated a fantastic one day event for local students from four secondary schools to learn how to go ‘beyond recycling’. When invited, Ecomodo was more than delighted to join in the fun and impart a little re-use wisdom along the way.

The purpose of the day was to further the environmental sustainability agenda for each participating school and build awareness of initiatives in sustainability beyond the educational community.

In true Ecomodo fashion, The New Forest District Council lent out space at Appletree Court to host the event and gave terrific support to the organising teachers and staff to pull-off a thought-provoking event for students and staff alike.

Launched by Alan Lovell, the Present Hampshire High Sheriff, with his illustrated lecture on Al Gore’s ‘An inconvenient Truth’, the day continued with talks and activities from contributors including 10:10, Southampton University and Footprint Friends.

I talked to students about embodied carbon and waste prevention (through borrowing instead of buying) but I think they were more excited by the ability to get their hands on some extra Wii controllers, to test drive a bicycle or play with an ipad just for the weekend.

Ecomodo was part of the ‘Beyond Recycling’ marketplace and were amongst good friends such as: the New Forest Food Challenge, an NF Transition Town initiative; the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust creating seed pots with students to grow wild flowers; the New Forest National Park talking about climate change; the Hampshire Coppice Craftsmans Group demonstrating some wonderful wood carving and The Portsmouth Sustainable Energy and Climate Change centre discussing renewable energies in the home.

Students attended from Ringwood, Priestlands, Mountbatten and Hounsdown Schools and regardless of the heat went home with lots new to think about. I’m looking forward to checking out their school reports.

get prepared for the big lunch!

July 2, 2010

Ecomodo has teamed up with The Big Lunch to help everyone get what they need to make their party go with a swing. Find out more.

Kick-started last year by The Eden Project, The Big Lunch is a one-day get together with your neighbours to eat, chat and have fun. It can be anything from a simple lunch to a full-blown street party with DJs and a hog roast. So this Sunday 18th July, why not hang out with your neighbours and chat whilst chomping on some chips and dips.

Whatever you need: a music system, games to play or extra tables and chairs; a helping hand to cook, make decorations, organise or clear up; or even a space to hold your Big Lunch: Ecomodo can help. Post a wanted ad to tell people around you what you’re looking for.

Need to raise some extra cash for food and drink? Rally your troops and get your neighbours lending all their assets and ask them to donate any profits to you. Ecomodo lets people lend almost anything so register your Big Lunch as a good cause, add some items to lend and start fundraising today. Search your shed and attic and get inspired for things to lend.

And at the end of the day, after the last sausage roll has gone and the bunting is coming down, keep your Big Lunch day alive by lending and borrowing throughout the year. Create a lending circle for your neighbourhood and get everyone, new friends and old to start pooling their assets for the common good.

it’s showtime ..

April 19, 2010

London Olympia hosted UK Aware 2010, the No.1 green and ethical show and our first outing into the big wide world. Finally we had the chance to get face-to-face with the real users of our service (outside our design process – that is). The crowd was a wonderful patchwork of people, from environmental activists to priests and eco-chic shoppers to mums hefting pushchairs. Luckliy there were no white rabbits.

The super smart UK Aware team had located us next to Freegle. Together we formed a great team and could tell a whole story about community reuse. If you have something you don’t want anymore but don’t want it to go to landfill, then Freegle it and let one of your neighbours take is for free. But if you have things you want to keep and just make better use of then lend them out on Ecomodo. Perfect.

We made some great friends amongst the other exhibitors and speakers too from Global Action Plan and their Eco-teams crew to Green Collar Woman, Good Energy, Twike, EggMag, MoreEco and TRAID. All doing good things.

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