It’s often said that we now live in a throw-away society. There’s certainly no denying that overconsumption – specifically our obsession with disposable packaging and other plastics – is having a serious effect on the planet and poses a very real threat to our ecological future.
But what can we do day-to-day to help tackle our big plastic problem? And how do we confront this addiction to consumerism? These are some of the burning questions that LJMU students have been striving to answer as they explore the eco-friendly ways that we can all make a difference to our planet.
Leading the way in this mission to be greener is Liverpool Business School. At a local enterprise event held in the city centre this year, several groups of marketing students showcased their eco-friendly business concepts and product prototypes as part of their Enterprise and Professional Practice module. Concepts were specifically designed to help combat our sustainability shortcomings and participants were certainly keen to make their mark.
Claire Murphy spoke of her and her peers' shock when confronted with the cold hard statistics about our global plastic consumption:
“During the research phase of our project, we discovered that there are a staggering 46,000 pieces of plastic for every square mile of the sea. We thought this was horrendous, especially when we learned that 92% of these plastics are microplastics – including glitter – which often makes its way into our oceans undetected. We decided that the issue of glitter was one that particularly needed addressing. That’s when ‘Glitzeco’, our completely biodegradable glitter glue pot, was born.”
Another concept put forward by students at the event was ‘Strawp’, a metal alternative to the plastic straw. This was targeted at bar owners in the city to reduce the need for single-use disposable straws by offering an alternative that could be washed and reused. Both ideas are just some examples of the impactful work students throughout Liverpool Business School are carrying out in attempts to set a greener example.
Claire from the Glitzeco team said of her enterprise project:
“It felt great to build a biodegradable product with the potential to become a real, functioning business. Presenting our idea to a live audience was so exciting and showed me what my career could be like after university."
'Glitzeco' body paint
Elsewhere, Business Management students have also been collaborating closely with a number of eco-conscious firms as part of their live business project assessments. One of these students is Sarah Hamil, who completed a project with sustainable fashion brand, Refashion Guide. The company focuses specifically on the environmental problems caused by the overproduction and incineration of clothing. Sarah was brought in to increase their online profile and strengthen brand identity, enabling Refashion Guide to better promote their very important ecological message.
“Whilst everyone else was typing up their essays, my classmates and I were out working with real businesses, gaining work experience and making connections. It’s been great for my CV too. My initial work with Refashionguide.com was aimed at increasing their social media following and expanding their e-commerce reach. Their Instagram account has so far increased from just 21 followers to over 3,000. They have since asked if I can continue to work with them as a paid freelance social media consultant, which is great as their eco-friendly message is so important to promote.”
And the sustainable ventures don’t stop there for Liverpool Business School. A group of students studying Sport Business have also been using their entrepreneurial flair to help combat the overuse of plastic. Charlotte Hughes and Emily Frith came up with the concept of ‘Eco-Activ’ – a brand of sustainable sports accessories. Primarily focusing on the production of drawstring bags, boot bags and gym holdall bags, each item is cleverly designed to use only factory cut-offs, used plastic bottles and lids, and other waste material.
Charlotte said of the group’s motivations:
"We conducted some research into plastics in the oceans and were devastated by what we found. We felt passionate about creating a brand and products aimed at millennials who are as passionate as we are about saving the environment.”
This passion has also led Charlotte and Emily to apply for LJMU’s Try It Out bursary. If successful, they will receive funding to kick-start their mission to take Eco Activ from a business concept to a real-life enterprise.
Chris Taylor, a lecturer within the Faculty of Business and Law who ran one of the enterprise events, said:
"Increasingly we are seeing LJMU students taking an interest in the wider, societal and environmental impacts of business, and this is something we encourage and support. There are many opportunities for students in the Business School to explore issues around ethics and sustainability, as well as developing important entrepreneurial competencies and to experience business from a practical, hands-on perspective."
Do you have an idea for a sustainable business plan of your own? Take a look at Liverpool Business School and explore our courses. Our undergraduate and postgraduate courses range from the likes of Business and Public Relations to International Tourist Management. And if you’re a current student, don’t forget to also check out LJMU’s Centre for Entrepreneurship where you’ll find more information about the start-up funding, networking and business support we offer to our budding entrepreneurs.
If you’ve also been inspired to go a little greener then have a read of LJMU’s easy tips on how to become more eco-friendly at university.