Sabin Prize Winner Engineer Plastic-Alternative Products to Fight Pollution and Reduce Carbon Emissions

Note: Yale School of the Environment (YSE) was formerly known as the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). News articles and events posted prior to July 1, 2020 refer to the School's name at that time.

Would you wear a rain poncho made from sugar?
To reduce the use of plastic and cut down on carbon emissions, it might be a better idea than it sounds.
A student-led startup, Green Gear Supply Co., has engineered the Eco Rain Poncho, made of a sugar-based bioplastic with a carbon-negative lifecycle. The poncho is the first product in their effort to create a portfolio of bioplastic and plastic-alternative products, environmentally friendly alternatives to petroleum-based conventional plastic.
“We have a vision for a world free of single-use plastics, where petroleum is no longer a dominant commodity. Plastics pollute our oceans, drive demand for oil, and are responsible for significant energy use and carbon dioxide emissions during refining and manufacturing,” their website states.
The startup — led by Russell Heller ’19, Duke student Monika Dharia, and Brown student Alan Yu — recently won the 2019 Sabin Sustainable Venture Prize, awarded by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), which is based at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and the Yale School of Management (SOM). The Sabin Prize competition was part of Startup Yale, a week of entrepreneurship pitch competitions and evens that invite innovative ideas from across the Yale community.
handmeup Hand Me Up, an online children&rsquo;s secondhand marketplace started by three students &mdash; <strong>Melissa Mazzeo</strong> &rsquo;20 M.E.M./M.B.A. (center), <strong>Jatin Batra</strong> &rsquo;19 M.B.A. and <strong>Cyndi Chen</strong> &rsquo;19 M.B.A. &mdash; won the Audience Choice prize.
Green Gear Supply Co. was also awarded a $25,000 cash prize and was automatically entered into the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking Summer Fellowship.

During the competition, the Audience Choice prize was awarded to Hand Me Up, an online children’s secondhand marketplace. The founders, Melissa Mazzeo ’20 M.E.M./M.B.A. and SOM students Jatin Batra ’19 M.B.A. and Cyndi Chen ’19 M.B.A., were also presented with the MBA Impact Investing Network and Training (MIINT) Prize, a $2,000 award for the “most investable” venture.
Hand Me Up also received the $10,000 Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant from CBEY in December 2018.
Other contests during Startup Yale included the Thorne Prize for Social Innovation in Health or Education, awarded by InnovateHealth Yale; the Miller Prize, sponsored by the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale; and the Rothberg Catalyzer Prize, which is given to the best student-led venture focused on developing hardware solutions to a medical challenge.