From sustainable supply chains of coffee and cosmetics to accessible to all DIY. From publishing to socio-educational services, and from circular economy in the recovery of PCs and electronic devices to innovative and renewable IT systems to guarantee clean water and energy resources to developing countries. Ethical fashion and sustainable logistics. Social innovation and projects dedicated to collective well-being are no longer whims for rich understimulated people, but are increasingly becoming opportunities for development and system strategies, not only for local areas and institutions but also for businesses.
The real novelty of the Festival dell’Economia Civile (Civil Economy Festival) was talking about values, commitments and perspectives without demonizing companies and profit, the idea being that a system based on the person being the center point is not a prerogative of the world of volunteering, and that work and sustainability are opportunities and not constraints.
The themes of repurposing and tourism are among the sustainable startups awarded at the Festival. The principles of civil economy and sustainable development (socio-environmental sustainability, feasibility, communication and innovation), which aim to the enhancement of the territory and local communities with creativity, guided the choice of the best startups on a national level.
The principles of civil economy and sustainable development, which aim to enhance the territory and local communities with creativity, have guided the choice of the best startups
Chosen from over fifty projects received from all over Italy, the ten startups, or sustainable startup ideas were evaluated by the jury and the public gathered at the Salone dei 500 at Palazzo Vecchio. The first prize went to Rifò, a startup from Prato who doubly repurposes, both the craft of 'cenciaiolo' – the rag-and-picker – and old clothes. The startup manages to make thread for sweaters, hats, scarves, blankets, from any natural material, regenerating it by also integrating plastic taken from bottles. Active on the market for a couple of years, they produce knitwear and yarns from the recycling of both pre-consumer (from local companies) and post-consumer textile waste (coming from end users throughout Italy via the online site). The fabrics are shredded and a new fiber is obtained with which a yarn is produced, reducing the number of waste produced and destined for landfill.
Second place went to FairBnB, a system of tourist bookings organized by private individuals. The startup, made up of young people from all over Europe, reinvests as a non-profit organization in the areas it is present in. FairBnB is a mix of Fair, honest, and Airbnb, and is the name of a homesharing platform with services similar to those of the Californian company but regulated by very different principles and methods. In fact, FairBnB was born to open the doors of one's own home to strangers, by renting a room or the entire accommodation. A good way to make a little extra income, but also a way to promote a more inclusive lifestyle, broaden the sense of community, fit into a place and its dynamics. That’s why FairBnB has chosen transparent and shareable criteria, announced in a manifesto that will make those who really believe in a sharing economy happy. For example, it has created a platform that, on the one hand, selects hosts to exclude agencies and speculators, and on the other hand allows them to donate half of the commission to a community social project in the city where they are traveling, as a dedicated crowdfunding to small NGOs and social projects, which receive half of the proceeds.
The three award-winning startups chosen from the ten finalists are Rifò, FairBnB and WeHop
Finally, WeHop, a project to recover the scraps of craft beer for pellet production, came in third. Hops, which make up 80% of the organic waste from beer production, can be reused to produce pellets to obtain energy and heat for craft beer plants, to heat offices or to enter the local home network.
This goes to show that sustainable development requires economic management that uses and enhances local capacities and resources, improving the living and working conditions of the community, and which ensures equally distributed and stable benefits over time.