I had the honor of serving as judge for the Staples Global EcoEasy Challenge held in Washington D.C. the week of April 11, 2011.
This event was a global challenge offered to colleges and universities from around the world. 80+ university’s participated from five different continents.
The challenge, create a eco-friendly office supply product.
In the United States approximately 1/3 of our municipal waste is generated from offices, restaurants and retail stores. That is costly to our environment. It is also a drag upon a business’ bottom line.
So this challenge is actually very important if we are to be more efficient and productive. We need products that do more with less.
The winning team from University of Cincinnati had a great gizmo. It was a surge protector about the size of a 12 oz paper cup that sits on top of desk. Its key design feature is an illuminated button on top. Push the button and all the electronics connected to this gizmo turn off.
Why is this so cool? Vampire power is the energy we waste when we think we have turned off a TV or computer but in fact they continue to draw power because they are connected to the wall socket. Problem solved in one easy button of the winning product innovation in the Staples Global EcoEasy Challenge.
Even more impressive was the quality of all the final entries. All of them offered pioneering insights on how to design office products using compostable materials. I took great encouragement that the vision of zero waste will be realized during the lifetime of these budding entrepreneurs.
Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017 that focuses upon the emerging smart, healthy and green economy. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles best practices of businesses making money going green.