Ideas for recycled fashion, climate-resilient communities, win CQUni Design Sprint

10 August 2021

CQUniversity students have waged their own war on waste' taking on the month-long Big Ideas Design Sprint to create innovative solutions to sustainability issues in their community.

The challenge' held as part of CQUniversity's annual Festival of Change' attracted student entrants from across Australia.

From a field of 21' two student projects progressed to the finals' presenting to judges from the Office of Social Innovation on Friday 6 August.

Finalist Cristian Herrera' a Master of Construction Management in Perth' enthusiastically pitched an innovative idea to use recycled bottles as flotation devices for floating housing.

Originally from Colombia' the practicing architect explained the tessellated design would be resilient to floods' provide safe shelter in natural disasters' and promote more cohesive communities.

"I call this the evolution of the housing – stop thinking of houses as a static' and start to think of them as dynamic' responding to the environment'" he explained.

"This business idea has the potential to dramatically impact both the real estate market and the way governments handle natural disasters."

Master of Information Technology student Naina Paudel also brought passion to her pitch' with an idea for a waste clothing collection service' to recycle materials and create new sustainable fabrics.

"Every 10 minutes' an estimated six tonnes of textiles and clothing are dumped into landfill in Australia'" she said.

"In Australia and globally' we witness a dire need of a circular economic model to address this hazardous problem."

Naina' who lives in Sydney' explained that the social business would grow demand for the recycled fibres through end-user awareness activities.

The initiative would also prevent pollution and microplastics' divert waste from landfills' and conserve energy by reducing the need for new fabrics to be produced.

Originally from Nepal' Naina is already running an blog business' and will graduate from her degree next year.

The judges were impressed by both pitches' and announced both students were joint winners' with each earning ongoing mentoring and an 8th Gen iPad valued at $467.

Social Innovation Program Manager Ashley Clarke congratulated all the participants' and said the inaugural challenge was a great chance for students to put their social innovation skills into action.

"Social Innovation is embedded across CQUniversity's curriculum' and the Design Sprint is one of many ways students can put their learning' and their passion' into creative action'" she said.

"By challenging students to respond to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals' we are equipping them with skills to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. The process really ignited some imaginative and innovative ideas for participants' which was great to see."

CQUniversity's Festival of Change wrapped up on Friday' following two weeks and more than 30 events to connect and inspire changemakers.

The annual series forms an important part of CQUniversity's role as Australia's only Changemaker University' accredited by global network for social innovation in education Ashoka U.