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About two dozen entries were received by the closing date, and organiser Geoff Stuart says he is delighted by the variety and originality of the proposals put forward. Nineteen will be go on to a judging panel.
The competition, also known as the Hutt City Environmental Sustainability Community Challenge, aims to encourage residents to find ways to improve the local environment.
“Sustainability is the key feature we are looking for,” says Geoff. “The brightest ideas need to be self-supporting at some level.”
Naenae Primary School has proven a fertile source of ideas, proposing a solar and wind-powered energy generation system to run lighting and heating of school rooms. Another entry from the same Naenae students proposes a “mean, green composting machine”.
This giant device would rotate to break down green waste faster and produce organic compost.
A third proposal from the school is to set up a series of bee hives around the school to pollinate flowers and vegetable gardens in the school grounds and adjoining properties, with proceeds from honey sales going back into purchasing more vegetable plants.
Two entries deal with a similar environmental problem – run-off of detergent-laden water from washing vehicles. One proposes a self-contained unit to capture all water, while another proposes diverting it on to lawn rather than allowing it to run into drains.
Other ideas include recharging stations for wheelchairs and electric scooters, the recycling of bicycles, the collection of used coffee grounds to cultivate mushrooms, and a mobile bus clinic to treat lice in schools using all-natural ingredients.
Two entries dealt with nappies: one proposal was to offer a service to collect, launder and return washable cotton nappies; another was a recycled cardboard nappy bin and disposable sanitary bin.
Two concern bicycles: one proposes a cycle link to Wellington along the top of the western hills to boost the pollution-free means of transport, as well as reduce vehicle use and increase self-sufficiency in the event a natural disaster knocks out roads and bridges. The second proposes manufacturing miniaturised lights to insert at either end of bicycle handlebars to help motorists gauge safe passing distances.
The winning entry, or entries, will receive a prize that will include up to $2,500 in cash, the services of up to 50 volunteers, and design and prototype work by Weltec’s Petone campus. Greater Wellington regional council is offering assistance to the winner of the sustainable transport section.
“Without great support from law firm Thomas Dewar Sziranyi Letts, Hutt City Council, Weltec and Greater Wellington, we would not have been able to offer such good prizes,” says Geoff.