Flemish youngsters from the third grade at secondary school are coming up with ideas for a more sustainable textiles sector.
To make a circular economy a reality, we need entrepreneurs. Not only experienced entrepreneurs who switch step by step to a circular product or service, but also young starters who tackle their business sustainably from the start. And that is where education often falls short.
With the project Wake up, Shake up, Start up! GoodPlanet Belgium, Junior Argonauts, Kringwinkel Antwerpen, Unizo, the VUB and the EcoHuis of the city of Antwerp are joining forces to stimulate socially responsible entrepreneurship among young people, via a theme that is close to their hearts.
We start in the school context with a documentary "Cotton, the story behind your pants", about the polluting textile sector, in order to stimulate young people's interest in a pathway around circular entrepreneurship. The participating classes visit the textile processing department of the Kringwinkel and follow a workshop in which they brainstorm about circular business models in the textile sector. Subsequently, students can work in groups on their own business plan, under the guidance of Junior Argonauts and Unizo. Finally, they present their designs to a jury and the public, whereby 5 winners are selected. They get a coachingtrajectory as a prize: professional guidance from Junior Argonauts to further scale up their ideas and to establish their own start-up.
Although we start this project in a school context, we take the young people much further. Their dreams and ambitions determine where the coaching process ends, but especially where their sustainable entrepreneurial story begins.
PartnersKringwinkel Antwerpen, Junior Argonauts, Unizo, VUB, EcoHuis van Stad Antwerpen
Our process ultimately resulted in 5 winning designs that will receive professional guidance in scaling up their ideas and founding their own start-up. This process is currently under development, but already very promising.
Several schools and young people continuedtowork on their designs, even though they were not selected for our trajectory. Because they were so motivated and some of them came from a difficult situation and deserved that extra chance, they could join the Junior Argonauts camp.
The documentary about the polluting textile sector is very successful and we are currently being asked to organise screenings for other organisations. This way, we enlarge our network and can raise even more awareness.
Our project continues to expand. We have launched a follow-up in Brussels, where all Brussels schools have received the documentary. A group has also already been selected with a design to produce circular hoodies.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
We believe that the project not only has an impact on the participatingpupils, but also on their peers and immediatesurroundings. They learn how to live more sustainably and are more open to it. The projects they devise and carry out also have a great impact in themselves.
Our project received many positive reactions from pupils and schools. We also clearly felt a great dynamic and interest in performing during the coaching. Both we and our partners are very satisfied that the idea of creating more sustainable ideas together with young people is working.
Although the first phase (raising awareness with the documentary) and the second phase (workshops) were a great success, the third phase was somewhat more difficult. There, we came up against the barrier that young people have other priorities and schools already have a full programme to follow, and our project comes on top of that.
5winners for coaching
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Currently, our project has a follow-up series running in Brussels. We hope to repeat this in Wallonia. It is also open to teachers to pay, but this can be a barrier for schools that do not have the budget for it.
We also share our knowledge with other partners. For example, 11.11.11 has adopted our redwire game and the documentary became part of their pedagogical dossier on fair trade.