London Hackathon

Following on from the Plastic Free Jersey Design Sprint, two students from Hautlieu School were chosen to represent the island at the Plastic Hackathon at the Design School of Design Engineering, Imperial College, London. Both Gemma & Katelyn were keynote speakers at the event and Gemma’s team went on to win first prize. Her team is now working alongside Sustainable Ventures to develop their concept, Mindful Mini’s & explore next steps.

‘Mindful Minis’ is a concept that aims to reduce single-use plastic in the travel industry that has now been picked up by sustainable investment experts.

It consists of a pop-up store in each airport's Duty Free area where travellers can pick up durable pouches that can be filled with essential liquids – anything from shampoo to conditioner, toothpaste and suncream – and connect together.

"They are collected after security and then on return from the trip, there would be a deposit point at the exit of customs in which you return the empty rolled up pouches. These are then washed and refilled before being returned to departures," Gemma explained.

"This reduces the plastic that has a short usage and prevents people from discarding the empties in other countries and is focused on the reuse and refill section of reduce, reuse, recycle, repeat.

"If everyone that passes through Heathrow refilled and reused their toiletries it could help prevent the 1.1million pieces of travel toiletry waste that goes through Heathrow every day."

But not only does the idea aim to have an environmental impact – it's equally beneficial for travellers' wallets, while also providing peace of mind.

"It was a system that looks at the irritation behind the 100ml limit, that only one small plastic bag can be taken through security, and that if extra luggage was to be checked in, it would be at a price. As well as this, travel minis are on average six times more expensive than one full sized bottle," Gemma explained.

She developed the idea alongside a team as part of the Plastic Hackathon held at Imperial College in London in February.

Gemma won a place to attend alongside fellow Hautlieu student Katelyn Ridgeway following her performance at Plastic Free Jersey's 'Design Sprint' event held in October, which encouraged GCSE students to devise practical solutions to combat plastic pollution.

The pair delivered keynote speeches at the London event, before being placed into teams with industry experts from across the sustainability sector, as well as big brands including Marks and Spencer and Just Eat, in order to develop innovative ways of cutting down the plastic waste associated with takeaways, grab-and-go food, personal care, and internet and grocery shopping.

In the end, 'Mindful Minis' was crowned the overall winning concept, which is now being pushed forward by green start-up supporters Sustainable Ventures,

"I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the Plastic Hackathon. I felt that I was part of something that was going to improve my future," Gemma said.

"It's so imperative that my generation have a voice when discussing the future sustainability of our planet and this event allowed my voice to be considered. The experience has given me some reassurance that the drastic problem of plastic pollution isn't being ignored or left for generations to come. It was inspiring to see so many like-minded individuals come together and consider other, more sustainable ways for the future. We need to make people ready to change, not to be scared of it."

Noel McLaughlin, Managing Director at Butterfield Bank, which sponsored Gemma and Katelyn's trip, as well as the Plastic Free Jersey Design Sprint, commented: "The Hackathon is an innovative and creative way of devising solutions to the global problem of plastic pollution.

"Following on from the success of the Design Sprint, this was a fantastic opportunity and we're thrilled to have enabled the students to be part of such a creative and important initiative."




ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN BAILIWICK EXPRESS