The social problem that we decided to address is two-fold. First up: changing people’s attitude in relation to the waste they create. Secondly: significantly reducing the amount of municipal solid waste using the up-cycling approach. This means using creativity and technical know-how to convert that waste into new products with a higher environmental value.
From all this, the idea for UP-LAB was born: a very small scale and low-cost workshop where waste will be transformed into high-functionality products or semi-finished material modules, which will be used on a scale that is local yet large too.
An example? Using the two tons of aluminium-foil coffee bags that are thrown away each month to manufacture thermal insulation for roofs or to waterproof tents.
We would like to stress that our goal is not to just open a single UP-LAB. This is about creating a replicable business model adaptable to many different contexts. Ideally, we would like to see a little workshop in every neighborhood.
So why many small labs and not only one big one in each city?
First of all we think that human contact and interaction are necessary to actively involve citizens.
Second, we really want to do this, and we believe that starting from a small scale is more realistic.
Third, make it simple – that’s the key to being replicated. We want to see UP-LABs everywhere, and all of them will cooperate, creating a network of sharing know-how and practical solutions on an international level.
What makes our business proposition unique is the quality of the output. We won’t create mere fashion objects that very quickly become outdated.
This project focuses on the creation of functional products that will be used on a massive scale.
Our core team is multidisciplinary, driven and under 30, with expertise in sustainable design, product design, sociology, work-flow management and event organization.
In terms of competitors we aren't scared at all because we actually w a n t to be copied. We want to spread our initiative, training up other young people in other cities and countries to create their own UP-LABs.
Until this happens, yes, we need some funds to kick-start the project.
Specifically for the first year we would need about 25,000 euros. The main costs will be renting a space, paying bills and working tools, 3 people’s salary, a website, promotion, transportation and events.
Addressing the critical difficulties that Europe is facing at the moment, our project directly aims to reach the eminently important environmental targets of reducing waste. Also, our social business model aims not only to create jobs. It stimulates people’s spirit of initiative, creativity and entrepreneurship. It helps the employability of youngsters by giving them know-how that they can then put to use in the job market.
We hope we have achieved to communicate our passion and our conviction to act and not only think. Last not least a big thank you for this opportunity to make our dream real.