By IRIS RIDDELL.

Imagine a world where humans don’t go against nature, but instead move with it.

That’s the vision of Canterbury University student Louis Go, a participant on the 2015 Live the Dream programme.

“No one can say our wasteful culture can continue forever; food waste is no different. We’re all guilty of it – thinking our food waste breaks down somewhere, and a biodegradable superhero saves the day. But that’s not the case,” says Louis.

“$800 million worth of food is wasted per year in New Zealand. That thoughtlessly disposed banana peel produces methane that’s 24 times more powerful than CO2. And that’s something I’m not okay with.”

Louis is the managing director of Cultivate Waste, a social start-up in Christchurch that collects food waste and delivers it to the Cultivate Christchurch Urban Farm, a community garden initiative that provides opportunities for local youth and homeless people.

Louis was introduced to the world of social entrepreneurship through Festival for the Future, an event in Auckland run by the social enterprise Inspiring Stories, which showcases youth-led innovation and supports young New Zealanders to spark and grow their ideas for a better world.

From there, the trainee chef applied for a place on the Christchurch chapter of the nine-week social accelerator programme Live the Dream, another arm of Inspiring Stories.

“The idea itself didn’t come to me until the very last minute. I started out with a passion for food. And since moving to New Zealand, I’ve worked in kitchens where I see food thrown out so easily. This was always something that puzzled and angered me, having a different background. This was the catalyst for me in developing a passion on finding ways to stop that or use the food being thrown further rather than just ending up in landfills.”

Applications for the 2016 round of Live the Dream opened recently, and young New Zealanders from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are all invited to apply before August 10.

Programme Manager Eva Riddell says this year the goal is to craft a “year-long experience” for participants that will create value beyond the nine weeks of the actual programme.

“We really want to create greater impact by nourishing and growing, not only young entrepreneurs with new ideas but intrapreneurs who want to create change within an existing organisation,” says Eva.

Some young social entrepreneurs, like Louis, are still cranking their ventures, “while others have gone off to start something new, or found their dream jobs”.

Three Live the Dream alumni went on to receive scholarships to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley, co-hosted by Barack Obama, and another represented New Zealand at the OECD Forum in Paris this year.

Louis describes the Live the Dream experience as “intense”, but he was challenged “to accomplish tasks I never would have done on my own, which was great”.

 

Visit www.livethedream.org.nz for more information on the Live the Dream programme. Applications close August 10. Visit www.festivalforthefuture.org.nz for more information on this national event, taking place on 23-25 September at Auckland’s Aotea Centre.

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