On April 7, 2013, student teams gathered on the Reynolda Patio to compete in the annual Inspiration to Innovation (i2i) Competition, which encourages all participants to solve real world problems in both an imaginative and innovative way. This year the competition focused on wooden pallet waste because of the recent ban of wooden pallets from all general landfills by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Student teams, made up of 1-5 people, presented their innovative and sustainable ideas for reusing these wooden pallets to a panel of judges. Each team’s idea was evaluated based off of its source of inspiration, potential impact on solving the problem, clear articulation of the idea and its value, and the idea’s level of sustainability.
The winners of the i2i competition were announced at our Annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 11. We would like to extend warm congratulations to the following students for their innovative and imaginative ideas.
Claire Nagy-Kato (’14) and Grant Gilbert (’13)
Students Claire Nagy-Kato and Grant Gilbert took a more environmental stance on the issue, suggesting that the wooden pallets be used as a means to grow or reproduce plant life. Claire and Grant suggested filling the wooden pallets with mushroom mycelium, which is the vegetative part of a mushroom. The mycelium contains many acids, specifically oxalic acid that binds to calcium and forms insoluble salts that grow expansively. The salts break down the chemical structure of organic compounds like rock, wood, metals, and petroleum products. Claire and Grant believe that this could be the natural solution to biodegrading future organic waste, thus eliminating its toxic effect on the overall health of our ecosystem.
Gabrielle Wilson (’15) and Ali Schulz (’16)
Students Gabrielle Wilson and Ali Schulz presented a model home that was created using
the paint sticks and wooden slats. They suggested that wooden pallets be used for interior design, functioning as a variety of funky and practical furniture pieces, including coffee tables, storage units, end pieces, or shelves. This idea provides customers with a less expensive option for furnishing their homes. Tasteful homes do not have to cost a fortune, and they can be simultaneously eco-friendly, inexpensive, stylish, and organic.
Patrick Fisher (’13)
Patrick Fisher suggested that the wooden pallets be used as a sustainable material in refugee shelters. The wooden pallet house is better suited for refugee camps than the tent shelters that are currently employed—“A pallet floor creates a raised platform to get the inhabitants off the ground. The raised platform creates a barrier from insects, rodents, and other dangerous animals present in the environments, as well as avoiding the dirt or mud, making it easier for refugees to maintain better hygiene.”