It’s been a while since our last update! The falling leaves and chill in the air made us reflect on the past few months, and how much we’ve accomplished and the opportunities we’ve had.
A few things happened right after our last update! Lauren had the chance to be interviewed by Women’s March Canada to talk about women in entrepreneurship and cleantech. This was a great opportunity to get the message out! You can watch that interview here.
We also mentioned in our last update that we were in the process of hiring an extra hand! We hired Andrew Rutland, a fellow UW Environment student, to help out with research and development for the summer and fall! As another queer and sustainably-minded student who had already heard about the microfibre problem and PolyGone’s work, he fit right into the team here and has been a HUGE help in the lab.
September started strong with Lauren pitching at the Fierce Founders competition where she came in second place, winning $25,000 for PolyGone! She met a lot of inspiring women running companies across Canada, including first place winner FableTech and runner up IntelliMed. Shortly afterwards, Lauren attended the Fireside Conference, an off-the-grid weekend retreat for entrepreneurs, investors and founders, where she was able to make great connections and get some great ideas.
October was another busy month for Lauren, who headed to Toronto to represent PolyGone on the microfibre panel at the World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) 2018 conference and pitched at the Textile Innovation Challenge in the same week! Here she was interviewed by Electric Runway for their sustainable fashion podcast. You can find that interview here.
The following week, Bardish Chagger, Canada’s Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion came by the Velocity Science lab to hear from PolyGone and other startups! She was very interested in our concepts and agreed that Canada needs policies for microplastic control.
Around this time, we also got a sweet new lab setup thanks to a lot of late nights and trips to the hardware store by Nicole! The new setup allows us to process samples a lot faster, and with less babysitting of the equipment, so that we can work on other tasks in the meantime. It also uses more glass and metal components as opposed to plastic. This way, we can be more confident in our analyses of microfibers in laundry wastewater, since there’s less opportunity for possible contamination in the filtering process. Focusing on metal and glass also fits into our values to have the most sustainable product cycle possible!
We also got a brand new washing machine, so we could have an even more controlled sampling process. Our old machine had been run with Waterloo’s hard tap water hundreds of times, and so had buildup and decay that began to contaminate our filter samples. The new machine will only be run with pre-filtered water, in order to limit the amount of non-synthetic material clogging and contaminating our sampling filters.
Thanks to some interesting connections and brainstorming, PolyGone is also beginning to expand from just looking at microfibres in laundry effluent, but also beer! As you may know, microplastics have been found in food products all around the globe, including beer. We’re working with a brewery to sample for microplastics in their products and if present, may develop a version of our product for industrial brewing processes.
October was also Zero Waste month, and PolyGone threw our hat in the ring to try Zero Waste Week from October 15th to 19th. This was a company effort, so we used only one jar for all three of us to add only our waste generated while at work. We blew it out of the park with only one foil wrapper for the whole week!
If you’re interested in getting involved next year, or want to see how you do in a week, head to Reep Green Solutions for tips and a network to get started!
Finally, Lauren just attended AquaHacking 2018: Lake Ontario & Beyond in Toronto. You may remember that PolyGone was initially conceived during the AquaHacking 2017: United for Lake Erie event, so it was great to be part of the conversation and hear from new ‘aquapreneurs’ this year!
Well, that’s just about it! We’ll try to stay on top of updates… there’s lots of exciting things on the horizon!
‘Til next time!
P.S. Want to help us out? Sign up for our mailing list and watch for a survey coming soon!