This week I need help. Help from every single one of you to support an initiative I hope to launch at University College Birmingham.
It all started with an email from a lecturer asking if I would enter a competition being run by the University of Warwick, UCB’s new accreditation partner. A sustainability competition – that’s the only thing I knew about it.
I was allocated a group with two Warwick students, Josh and Martyna, and challenged to find a way to help students be more sustainable on an individual basis. Why target students, you might say? Well research says 18 to 24-year-olds waste more than any other age group, and anyone who has seen pictures of Manchester’s Fallowfield area at the end of the summer term will understand. The place is transformed into one giant rubbish dump as students leave behind all the stuff they can’t take home with them. It has been dubbed ‘binmageddon’ by the tabloids.
Josh said wouldn’t it be a good idea if we could develop an app so students could exchange, borrow or give away the items they no longer need, rather than sending them to landfill. We called it Unicycle, drew up a business plan and it won.
So that, in a nutshell, is what we are trying to do with a little help from the NatWest Accelerator programme, which is opening a new hub at the University of Warwick on March 1. (There is also an established hub in Birmingham). Each week there are seminars, speakers and workshops, plus a monthly mentoring session to make sure we keep on track.
But before we part with some of our hard-earned funding cash, we wanted to ask fellow students at Warwick and University College Birmingham what they thought of the idea and what they would like it to look like. So that’s where you come in. Can you please, please, please take three minutes out of your hectic day to take our survey?
When we started out on this mission, Josh told us a story about Wally. Being a sociable sort of a chap, Josh likes to party, and a lot of the organised events at Warwick are themed, fancy dress occasions. So, he bought a Where’s Wally costume on Amazon for his first event and of course now it is languishing unused at the back of his wardrobe. And, of course, another week goes by and there’s another party, another throwaway costume and another Amazon delivery. It is not the kind of circular economy we want. And Josh does not want to be a Wally any more.
We hope that Unicycle could become a sustainable source for everything from Where’s Wally costumes to textbooks, sports equipment to clothes, pots and pans to bookshelves, and all at the click of a button. So, help us to help you and the climate. Support Unicycle and take our survey.