CARLSBAD — As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
About 125 Carlsbad High School students use this mindset to drive sustainability as a core principle in the school’s business pathway program.
These students repurpose old clothes, climbing ropes and fabric into reusable bags, dog leashes and collars, and eco-friendly products, then put them on sale for the public. Collectively, they are known as Carlsbad Creations.
Savannah Conner, 16, and Masah Peck, 17, along with CHS teacher Carol King, showcased their budding businesses during the April 21 Green Business Expo hosted by the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce at The Flower Fields.
Another CHS group on hand at the Earth Week expo, the Carlsbad Cleanup Crew, or C3, involves students who collect trash, separate the refuse from recyclables and then repurpose the trash into colorful artwork.
The students with Carlsbad Creations have three businesses to work with, while learning the foundations of operating a business. King, along with the curriculum, teaches the basics of business to build a pathway for students interested in business or being an entrepreneur.
The three businesses are Project Eco Paws, which centers on the leashes and collars; Yesterdays, which makes tote bags from discarded clothes; and Wowder, which provides products will all-natural ingredients.
“We repurpose (climbing ropes) into strong dog collars and leashes,” Peck said. “For the dog leashes, we’re going to try to go to dog events, dog shows, just to get it out to people in love with dogs.”
Freshman students at CHS start with Art in Business, a graphic design class, and business communications, King said. The following years include marketing, then Virtual Enterprise and, finally, Advanced Business Management.
The business management class, meanwhile, has its own business called Might Mouses, which produces face masks from bamboo for kids with a storybook to help reduce the fear of masks, King said.
“Hopefully, we’ll have it published,” she added.
As for their e-commerce platform, King said the students go through EdCorps to post and sell their products. The website collects payment and distributes the funds to the school, which donates the profits to worthy causes.
The students, though, rely on donations to build their stock to manufacture their products. King said she contacts climbing or athletic gyms to collect their used ropes, while the Yesterdays team collects donated clothes or fabrics to repurpose.
As for the Green Expo, Conner and Peck said it was a good opportunity to receive feedback, showcase their products and mission as they rarely get a chance to participate in more large-scale events.
“It’s cool to see the feedback,” Conner said. “And seeing if people actually like the product because we’re usually just in the classroom.”
King said pre-pandemic, the students were able to set up a booth at Carlsbad Village Faire, but now are looking to get a booth, perhaps, at the Carlsbad Farmers Market.
Representing C3, Valeria Echague, a 17-year-old senior, and Zoe Goldstein, a 16-year-old junior, were on hand to showcase the group’s commitment to community service and the environment.
“Every weekend we go pick up trash at our local parks and beaches,” Echague said. “We record everything we pick up and at the end of the cleanup, we separate the trash from the recycling.”
The two girls said their group does weekly cleanups at various locations in the city. They convert pounds of trash into vibrant art and then sell the pieces, while also providing a community service.
Goldstein said C3 partners with local artists to transform the trash. Of the displays at the expo, the pieces ran the color spectrum, like a rainbow, showcasing a popping aesthetic.
Additionally, the club is also working its way to local businesses to spread awareness of eliminating single-use plastic items and reducing the number of napkins in restaurants and supplementing with items like paper straws, Goldstein said. The also sell reusable cups and water bottles.
As for the rest of the expo, chamber President and CEO Bret Schanzenbach said weather cut the event short at around 5:30. Regardless, 300 people registered in addition to the 3,000 general admission tickets sold by The Flower Fields that created more foot traffic, he said.
In total, 25 vendors and 10 electric cars were showcased as the event returned for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All the feedback we received from the vendors, it was just great to be out, in-person and getting to interact with people again,” Schanzenbach said. “The weather wasn’t as cooperative.”
Regardless, he said the event built momentum and sees it “exploding” over the next several years.
The vendors, meanwhile, put on display a range of products and solutions, including solar panels, lighting, cleaning supplies and air filters, to name a few.
The chamber, meanwhile, was promoting itself as the newest addition to the Carlsbad Green Business Program, part of the California Green Business Network. The program evaluates businesses to help them upgrade and find efficiencies, from lights and faucets to conservation and more, according to Timaree Nelson, CGBP program director.
She said five local businesses have been certified, with at least 10 more in the pipeline. While the pandemic has slowed the program’s ability to visit in-person, it is slowly returning to on-site inspections, along with conducting virtual evaluations.