Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak at the Notre Dame MBA Net Impact Club’s Sustainability Symposium. Fellow speakers included executives and founders from Patagonia the well known sporting goods manufacturer, Greater Good Studio a design firm in Chicago dedicated to tackling social problems, Dairy Management Inc a group that, among other things, helps sponsor the NFL’s Play 60 initiative, and A Safe Haven, a Chicago area non-profit that is fighting chronic homelessness and drug abuse, and winning.
I’m still not sure what I was doing among such an illustrious group of folks but I felt honored to have been invited. Talking with folks like these who have done so much is always energizing and the free flow of ideas helps spark my creativity. Plus there’s that free dinner on Notre Dame’s dime. As you may have heard, my belief is that free is always delicious!
My task for the conference was to run a case study group for about an hour and a half. I started off with an expanded version of my Ignite presentation to help people understand who I was, what I had been doing, and what they could do for me. As I told them, it was a very Drew-centric presentation. With a focus on sustainability, I had to come up with something that the attendees (mostly ND MBA students) could complete in a short time but that might have an opportunity to actually be implemented.
Last spring we had the opportunity to work with ND Business of Sustainability students on what sustainability at The State could look like, focusing on three key areas: HVAC, Waste Streams, and Social causes. We’ve made good progress on the waste streams thanks to our trash hauler, Michiana Recycling, who does all the recycling sorting for us in a process known as single stream recycling.
But there’s always room to improve so for the case study I chose to focus on how to minimize waste from beverages because while it’s great to recycle it, it’s even better (from both an environmental and cost perspective) to not create the waste at all.
The students ended up with about 40 minutes to work out their ideas. That’s not very long to work on something, but I was really impressed with what the participants were able to create, both in terms of the creative solutions and in how quickly they were able to assimilate the things that are important to me into their presentation. With 90 seconds to present, they created posters for their ideas and gave me the elevator pitch on what it was and how it would help meet our goals.
Team number 1 came up with this reusable plastic cup. I really liked the “one cup at a time” slogan as well as the I <3 State logo. This group also did a really good job of defining other pieces we’d need to implement this solution.
Team 2 came up with this “F’in Goblets” concept. Step 1 is hosting a fundraising event where people would pay to design a goblet, potentially ceramic, that would then get fired and hung up around the theater, creating a sort of art gallery of goblets. People could then grab one of these and “rent” it for a show. Using the mug would get you a discount and because the mugs would be constantly changing location, the display of them would as well. Kind of like an ever evolving art exhibit. I loved how this offered people the opportunity to add their creativity to The State as well as the boldness and moxie of the name.
Team 3 brought this creative idea using an existing camping cup product that is collapsible. I’d never seen such a thing and was really excited about it. How cool would it be to see people wandering around the city with these hanging from belt loops and backpacks? I really liked how the design helped promote civic pride as well as the ways in which this campaign could extend beyond the boundaries of the theater.
After a difficult deliberation, we awarded the prize to the F’in goblets. All of the groups did a good job but the goblet team really excelled at applying the things that I thought were important about The State into their product idea and weren’t afraid to challenge conventions with their naming choice. That’s the sort of thinking that has led to our success here at the theater.
So what’s your favorite idea? Think we could actually make these happen? Let us know in the comments. Who knows, maybe one day soon you’ll be watching a show and enjoying your favorite beverage from your own F’in goblet.