GreenHouse students set their sights on sustainable solutions

Changeroom team

Given the growing impact of climate change, building environmentally sustainable products and services has become more important than ever before. So, it comes as no surprise that GreenHouse (GH) students continue to build ventures with a sustainability focus. Whether it’s a product or service to help you consume more sustainably, or an idea to support existing businesses transition into a more sustainable business model.

We took the time to catch up with two of the winners from the most recent Social Impact Showcase who focused their ventures on sustainability for social impact.

Sup Zero

Prototype of packagingFourth-year Environment, Resources and Sustainability (ERS) student Ashoke Mohanraj was experiencing the pains of clunky supplement packaging every time he bought a new product to support his health and fitness goals. From protein powders to nutritional supplements he purchased, he noticed the packaging was unappealing, took up a lot of space and every time he bought new supplements, it was generating unnecessary plastic waste.  

With this problem in mind, he came to GH’s Social Innovators in Training program looking for support with resources and direction for his idea, Sup Zero. The venture aims to provide consultancy to small or medium-sized supplement companies looking to create more responsible and sustainable packing solutions for their customers. Noticing consumer trends, Mohanraj liked the idea of replacing the clunky and wasteful plastic supplement containers with a more elegant solution such as a glass jar and utilizing biodegradable packaging for supplement refills.  

He felt uniquely positioned to solve this problem using consultancy since he could leverage the technical expertise gained from his ERS degree and experience in the health and fitness space as a powerlifter. 

“I never would have considered myself to be an entrepreneur,” says Mohanraj. “But I have really enjoyed becoming part of the GreenHouse community, it has been a great resource for helping me build out my idea and make good connections.” 

Sup Zero has recently been awarded $2,000 in funding from the Social Impact Fund to support the design of the sustainable packaging and to pilot the system with local partners this summer.

ChangeRoom

Started by two first-year Engineering students, Ayush Bhargava and Raymond Wu in their final year of high school, this impressive mobile application promises to take the fashion industry by storm. In a world of detrimental fast fashion consumption, ChangeRoom is the first apparel application of its kind to partner with sustainable clothing brands to bring a seamless shopping experience to life for a growing number of eco-conscious customers. It has even partnered with tech experts at Shopify to bring its vision to life.

Sustainable fashion isn’t the most accessible due to its price-point or visibility to younger, money-conscious consumers, but ChangeRoom is looking to partner with unconventional sustainable apparel companies such as thrift stores to enhance access.  

Ayush and team member working on the app on a white board

After winning a $5,000 pitch competition with Concept, ChangeRoom sought out the team at GH for more guidance and support with its venture.   

“GreenHouse has been so helpful in bringing our goals to life,” says Bhargava. “Being a part of the community has given us new ways to adjust our product for maximum social impact.”

Most recently, ChangeRoom has won the top prize from the Social Impact Fund, $2,500. The team plans to use the funding to increase its monthly active user base and expand its brand partnerships while working full-time on its venture during the summer.

GH understands how impactful these ventures will become for current and future consumers and looks forward to continuously supporting Sup Zero and ChangeRoom through bi-weekly mentorship.

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