Green Hub

Green Hub: Minimising waste and promoting good sustainability practices among youths

Sydney, AustraliaSydney, Australia
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Established
Budget: 
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Green Hub is a reuse centre which aims to minimise waste generation and help promote sustainability practices among youths.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could turn waste/junk into money?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

We cater for 216 residents in our residential college, most of whom are on exchange only for one semester (6 months). At the month of the semester, residents generate a phenomenal amount of waste. They throw everything out as they're unable to take them back to their home countries due to limited baggage capacity. Averagely per semester, we're looking at 6,000 full garbage bags.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Green Hub exists to help reduce waste within our residential community. Through the formation fo the Green Hub, we're encouraging residents to deposit items that they think will be of value to others before dumping them into the garbage bins. This initiative has helped reduce 50% of our waste generation! On top of that, we've managed to donate these items to charities such as Vinnies and the First Hands Solutions Aboriginal Corporation which collects furniture on behalf of indigenous communities.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We've set up a Green Hub. This space is used by outgoing residents to deposit unwanted items by categories namely clothes, furniture, electronic equipments, sporting equipments, laundry and detergent etc. Outgoing residents get to remove excess baggage before they return to their home countries. Incoming residents will visit the Green Hub and pick up items that they need. They save up money by not having to purchase new items. In the process, this reduces waste and the amount of work that the Randwick Council needs to do to sort out garbage. Furthermore, some of the clothes and furniture are donated to charities.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We keep track of our impact through an inventory system where residents have to report all items donated and all items taken. In just 6 months, over 180 residents have utilised the Green Hub. We've managed to reduce our waste (in terms of total garbage bags per semester) by 50%. The rate by which the one 240L paper recycling bin is filled up is once a week which means that we've successfully diverted at least 50 kg of paper weekly from the landfill to a recycling centre. Residents and representatives from UNSW Sustainability have expressed that they are extremely happy with the Green Hub initiative. As mentioned, we're also able to donate our items to help other charities such as Vinnies (donated clothes) Community Recycling Networking of Australia and the First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation (primarily interested in collecting furniture for the indigenous communities).

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

I believe the next step is to develop the Green Hub from a small operating space within only one residential college into a social enterprise. I am looking at creating a reuse hub (just like Green Hub) across three suburbs (communities) around our area namely Randwick, Kensington and Kingsford. The operating concept is similar but done on a much larger scale. To coordinate this effort successfully, however, I would need to think of a more efficient way of keeping track of the inventory. Leveraging on an online platform will be the way forward.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

With the amount of clothes received from outgoing residents, there is a real busines opportunity to consider setting up an online clothing store. Clothes can be sold online to generate margins which will go into supporting the operations of Green Hub. By expanding our impact from 1 residential college to the remaining 8 residential colleges, I am convinced that we will be able to triplefold the resources that are currently donated to the centre.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Our unique position (the fact that we're situated on campus) gives us a huge competitive edge in terms of resource collection from residents. That is, residents would not otherwise walk or drive all the way to Vinnies or other charities for that matter to donate used items. As well, the resources obtained are largely from international youths between 18-25. The items donated by them would be different compared to those donated by the surrounding communities which is the set up of Vinnies.
Team

Founding Story

I am a Resident Fellow based in one of the UNSW colleges. As I was doing my rounds and checking the floors one day,I noticed something similar across all floors- the garbage bags were literally filling up half the space in the kitchenettes. That was when I realized I had to do something to minimise waste in our college. I've noticed that one of the rooms on my floor was unoccupied and really wanted to make good use of it. So, I contacted a representative from UNSW Sustainability to discuss about my idea of setting up a Green Hub on campus. She was very supportive of it and the next thing you know we were in 'business'.

Team

The Green Hub is currently run by volunteer students known as 'Green Hubbers'. We are a multicultural and enthusiastic group of students supported and funded by UNSW Sustainability. Since we are based on campus, we can easily increase the number of student volunteers by getting the Green Hub Project affiliated with UNSW's Student Leadership Program which require students to volunteer for a fixed number of hours before they are given certificates.
About You
About You
First Name

Renard

Last Name

Siew

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Project
Organization Country

, NSW, Sydney

Country where this project is creating social impact

, NSW, Sydney

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Other.

Supplemental
Sector

Waste and Packaging, Inclusive Business.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

I have set up a reuse centre called the Green Hub at one of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) residential colleges, Sydney. There are various stakeholders involved including the residents of the college, the Randwick Council and a few charity organisations.

What is unique about this residential college is that it caters for 216 study abroad students who come in typically on an exchange for only one semester (about 6 months). The amount of waste generated by these residents at the end of the semester is phenomenal. With the Green Hub, leaving residents can now deposit used items at the centre instead of throwing them out. I've also worked with UNSW Sustainability to bring in paper recycling bins to be placed at the Green Hub. Incoming residents benefit from this initiative as they can reuse some of the items donated instead of having to purchase them. In the process, we are also able to cut down the amount of waste generated by 50% which works in the benefit of the Randwick Council as there is less sorting of rubbish that needs to be done. We've been keeping track of an inventory so far and have been receiving a lot of clothing items, furniture, electronics (fans, refrigerators etc), coathangers, sporting equipments, stationery and detergent.

Items that are typically in demand include stationery, electronic goods and coathangers. Because of the amount of clothing items that we've received, we are currently in talks with Vinnies, a not-for-profit based in Sydney to look at an opportunity of setting up a clothing collection bin in our college . Vinnies usually collects these clothes and resells them. Any profit made will go straight to charity.

Two other charities that we're currently engaging with is the Community Recycling Networking (CRN) Australia and First Hand solutions Aboriginal Corporation (interested in recycling furniture). Some of the items that we've collected will be donated to them directly. This will hopefully help make a positive difference in the lives of the indigenous community.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

The Green Hub is a relatively small space within one residential college. I wish to expand on this initiative to also include all the remaining 8 residential colleges and possibly the Kensington community in the next two years. With the prize money, I am hoping to firstly secure a larger storage space for the Green Hub (refurbishment may be required) and secondly to set up an online inventory to better keep track of the inflow and outflow of donated items. This will help us to measure the impact that we're making more accurately.

So far, just by word of mouth, we've been able to attract three charities -Vinnies, CRN and the First Hand Solutions Aboriginal Corporation. I am convinced that with the publicity that we can get by winning this project, we will be able to diversify our solutions even more. Already, I am starting to think of the possibility of perhaps setting up an online womens' clothing store where I can resell used fashionable clothes for margins. As mentioned the Green Hub is getting a lot of clothes (especially from women residents). When asked, one of the residents commented that the only reason she's donating her clothes is because she can't seem to fit all of them in her luggage bag and has no choice but to depart with them. I genuinely believe that there is a business case there.

Also hopefully through the publicity of the Green Hub, I am able to inspire other similar communities to follow this initiative and help make a positive impact elsewhere.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

When I was 14 years old, I noticed that there was a lot of demand for gift delivery in my school especially during special occasions such as Teacher's Day or Valentine's Day.So, I decided to set up a service where I would charge the sender $5 for a standard package of sweets and a handwritten message to be delivered to the recipient. As a high school student, I remembered making quite some money out of it.

When I was 21, I set up tuition services for some of my juniors. I did pretty well in school and graduated with top grades so there was quite a
high demand for it.

At the moment, I am working on setting up a sustainability consulting company in Malaysia. It's still in the early stages but I am hoping that it will be a fruitful venture.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?

yes

Will you require a visa to enter the UK?

Are you are a current Unilever employee?