The ‘Up’ Side Of Recycling

The 'Up' Side of Recycling

Winners of the video competition with the project team members

Everyone has heard of recycling but there is a new concept in the environmental field. "Upcycling" involves taking discarded items and adding value to them by turning them into something new. But how many people know of it?

That question inspired a group of HKU students to launch a project, Upcycling for a Change, to raise the profile of upcycling in Hong Kong among a crucial group of consumers: young people.

They organised a video competition involving both secondary school and university students. Secondary school competitors were asked to produce a three to five minute video on upcycling, while university competitors produced a one-minute video promoting the competition. The competition had two goals: to raise awareness among the participants and to spread the word to the wider community through their videos.

The leader of the project was Mary Hui Wing-sze, who was studying for a BBA(Information Systems). She had previously done an internship with the social enterprise Déjà vu Creation where she learned about upcycling, and she had come away wondering how she could contribute.

"As a final year student I felt I should do something for society before I started working," she said.

Mary recruited five fellow students to help contribute their know-how to the project. "We promoted the competitions through social media including a Facebook page and a website, called Value+. We were able to use marketing knowledge from business and computer science knowledge from the Information Systems programme," she said.

The students also got support from Déjà vu Creation, which put them in touch with other social enterprises and NGOs. Donors also provided prizes - book vouchers for secondary school students and internships with a social enterprise for university students.

The only letdown was the number of entries, just a handful in each category. However, the students' mentor, Dr Michael Chau of the School of Business, pointed out that the more important measure of the project's success was the significant number of visitors to the website (more than 1,000), views of the videos on Youtube (more than 2,000) and likes on Facebook (185).

"The entries received were all very good and they managed to reach a lot of people through social media," he said.

Mary added that the experience was ultimately very satisfying. "It was a good opportunity to share our knowledge and contribute to society," she said.

The Value+ Facebook is at www.facebook.com/valuepluz.