Barbora Babickaitė ir Brigita Linauskaitė
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Students’ sustainable business ideas not just for Earth Day: Decorating with bottle cap accessories is possible too

International Earth Day – a great opportunity to review a few student initiatives focusing on environmental protection and sustainable living.

Earth Day began to be celebrated on April 22, 1970 (now traditionally observed during the vernal equinox, along with astronomical spring) at the initiative of American Senator Gaylord Nelson, aiming to encourage people to take responsibility for the planet and promote actions that would help preserve nature and its resources for future generations. Earth Day quickly became one of the most important international environmental celebrations. Environmental and sustainability ideas are close to modern students.

Bottle cap accessories: less waste

Barbora Babickaitė and Brigita Linauskaitė, seventh-grade students from the Erudito Licėjus, along with their team (Mykolas Grabys and Augustė Kurpytė), chose to create accessories from bottle caps, tin can lids, and other secondary raw materials, most of which end up in the trash.

“The idea came up during the first week of the business project. We were looking for something that could connect our team, what our common interests were, we wanted to involve arts and look for sustainable business ideas. With my classmate Augustė, we started talking about how we like accessories, so the idea came up to create jewelry and accessories from what we consider trash,” Barbora explains about the beginning of the project.

The artistic part fell to Brigita: when decorating the accessories, markers and nail polish that are environmentally friendly are used, along with rivets that are pressed from the edges of the bottle caps, so no additional tools are needed – just a good press. She likes to get ideas from Pinterest, other social networks, and apps.

The accessories were so popular that the girls had already given away, distributed, and sold all they had made. Brigita assures that they did not expect to earn from the accessories, but they were quite popular. Now the students are considering making them for some events or even selling them. The students admit that they are encouraged to continue and expand their activities by both parents and teachers.

The classmates of the team took up the idea of ​​creating sustainable fabric bags, painting them, and there were thoughts for these two teams to collaborate and work together, become business partners, and sell their products together.

Students have been learning these entrepreneurship, project, and collaboration skills since the 5th grade in entrepreneurship classes, companies, and businesses created for Erudito Licėjus’ students – this is not new. Entrepreneurship education and project activities are priority areas, and they receive a lot of attention.

“Entrepreneurship and financial literacy are also included in other lessons. We are just happy about that because these skills are very necessary, and it’s interesting to learn them,” says Babickaitė, who considers entrepreneurship education a uniqueness of the school. Her classmate, Linauskaitė, agrees: “I have experience from other schools, and I can say that most schools do not teach entrepreneurship and do not have six-week project activities, and this is quite sad,” reflects the seventh-grader from Erudito Licėjus.

According to the head of primary education and teacher of entrepreneurship and economics, Kristina Celiešiūtė, students who unravel the secret of entrepreneurship are taught to work in a team, constantly find points of contact with their team members, learn to argue and defend their opinion, foresee what will happen next if your plan does not work out or if it goes differently than planned. “So strategic, critical thinking is introduced, general competencies – communication, teamwork,” says the teacher of entrepreneurship and economics.

According to the speaker, those entrepreneurial competencies – taking on leadership, taking on the role of the main leader – are very important and necessary in our society, “so that children are not afraid to create.”

Creative approach: Sustainable fashion show

Ideas on how to give secondary raw materials a second life could also be found at the student sustainability fashion show. The school student council organized this event for the main classes students on the occasion of Earth Day.

National and international 5th-6th-grade students prepared several models from recycled materials and secondary raw materials. Plastic bottles, of which, as statistics compiled and provided by the Student Council show, we accumulate about 22 billion annually, turned into inventive hats, socks, and even shoes, plastic bags – into tops, capes, disposable plastic straws – into belt buckles, paper shopping bags – into “branded” “Gucci” handbags, corsets, and gloves, fabric scraps – into evening and tea dresses, etc.

The goal is to use as little plastic as possible

Are sustainability ideas important to students? Brigita insists that the most important task that she sets for herself in everyday life is to use as little plastic and materials whose production consumes a lot of natural resources as possible. “We want to use what seems to be no longer used and show how creatively they can be reused,” and ideas for reusing secondary materials are familiar to the students.

The speakers are pleased with the new European Union directive on plastic caps: they will be made by attaching them to plastic bottles. “Although not everyone likes such a solution and it is not always convenient, we believe that such measures also contribute to reducing waste,” say the Erudito Licėjus’ students. Plastic caps are one of the most common sources of plastic pollution – they are among the top ten most frequently found litter on beaches, in the sea, and elsewhere in nature.

Seventh-graders are interested in environmental and sustainability topics, trying to educate their surroundings and relatives, share discovered information and interesting findings, they themselves try to adhere to the principles of sustainability, but at the same time acknowledge that a small part of their peers are always conscious.

The quiz prepared by the student council and the announcement on Earth Day reminded how important it is to collect and sort garbage every day, to use resources responsibly and not to waste them. And if we manage to turn garbage into jewelry, perhaps the amount of plastic waste per European, from 114 kg per year, will start to decrease…