RILA And UT-Austin Team-Up

Sustainability Challenges

This year, RILA's Sustainability and Environmental Compliance Committees teamed up with the University of Texas at Austin to kick off an exciting new initiative leveraging student teams to explore future solutions to retail challenges and build the next generation of environmental problem-solvers.

Students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines self-selected into teams and chose a problem prompt focusing on these four retail challenges: Recycling VolumesTextile CircularityPOS Product Transportation, or E-Commerce Packaging.

From a field of fifteen competitive teams, the top five finalists were judged by retail experts:

  • Lisa Boyd, Corporate Responsibility Senior Manager, Target
  • Lisa Davis, Sustainability Manager, IKEA
  • Amy Ebersole-Martinez, Safety and Environmental Manager, Petco
  • Wilson Griffin, Sustainable Innovation Manager, Gap Inc.
  • Sue Long, Sustainability Initiative Manager, REI
  • Erik Petrovskis, Environmental Compliance & Sustainability Director, Meijer

This week, RILA hosted a webinar to announce the top three teams and give them the opportunity to discuss how they arrived at their solutions and their potential impact on retail. 

Meet the Winners:

The Code Bag

About: The Code Bag hopes to introduce an improved system where customers bring in a sturdy reusable shopping bag that includes a barcode promoting various discounts through a loyalty program.
Team Members:

  • Taylor Stiff – Junior, Textiles and Apparel Design Major and Studio Art Major
  • Kristal Javieno – Junior, Textiles and Apparel Design Major
  • Heejung (Sarah) An – Sophomore, Textiles and Apparel Merchandising Major and Cultural Anthropology Minor

The Portable Shopping Cart

About: The Portable Shopping Cart utilizes collapsible boxes that have moveable partitions. The boxes are designed so that the average person can carry them with ease, through the store and back to their home. 
Team Members:

  • Obinna Akahara - Sophomore, Physics, Business minor and Computer Science certificate
  • Alyson Vargas – Sophomore, Sustainability and Communication Leadership double major
  • Andrew Tan – Sophomore, Computer Science

Creators for Cause

About: Creators for Cause provides an originally created, environmentally-friendly shopping bag for grocery stores to distribute, premium membership business model to incentivizing store customers, and a unique return method that encourages the cycling of our product.
Team Members:

  • Jihyo Kim – Senior, Textiles and Apparel major
  • Adriana Rezal – Senior, International relations and global studies major, journalism minor
  • Sojin Park – Junior, Chemistry major, Pre-health professional certificate, Environment and sustainability certificate
  • Donggeon Ko – Sophomore, Geography major, Elements of computing certificate
For more information about RILA's Sustainability and Environmental Compliance Committees or to get involved with a student challenge, contact Katie Nicholos.

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