Oxfam-Monash Innovators’ Sustain Me recycling app goes nation-wide

Eleanor Meyer and Stephen Halpin, founders of the Sustain Me app
Eleanor Meyer and Stephen Halpin, founders of the Sustain Me app

Monash alumni Eleanor Meyer (Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts) and Stephen Halpin (Bachelor of Education), have been very busy since graduating, developing the Sustain Me recycling app. The success of the app in Victoria means that they’ve decided to take the big step of launching it nation wide.

The idea for Sustain Me came about in 2013 when Eleanor and Stephen were still students at Monash. They both took part in the Oxfam-Monash Innovators competition, which gives Monash students the chance to come up with and pitch world-changing ideas to Oxfam Australia and Monash University for funding and support.

“A wise friend of mine slipped me the application, saying I’d enjoy the challenge. I really started to believe that I could do something practical when I saw the real-life impacts of winning this competition. I began to believe – if I won, I’d be able to go out into the world, and have a project that could make a difference,” said Eleanor.

Eleanor and Stephen’s winning idea was to create something that would help Melbournians live up to that ‘100% sustainable city’ goal by learning about recycling and what they can and can’t recycle. The result of that idea was the Sustain Me app, launched for Victorians to use in July last year.

Sustain Me in UseEleanor completed her Masters of Arts (Research) at Monash in 2014, after completing a Bachelor of Arts in Politics. During her Masters work, she researched environmental issues relating to migration policies. Stephen completed his Bachelor of Education/ Bachelor of Sport and Outdoor recreation in 2015 at Monash.

Now, the dynamic pair have decide to go national with the app and will coincide its launch with Clean Up Australia Day, on March 6th. They’re also seeking crowd funding to support this move.

“We decided to launch nation-wide for a few reasons. We were getting requests from people all over Australia about when were we going to release the app there,” Stephen explained. “And we were getting feedback from people saying that they’d probably only download it once it was national. Then the Huffington Post promoted us Australia-wide and we decided we had to go national. So we did”.

Eleanor and Stephen have now been shortlisted for a number of awards, including the Victorian Young Achiever Awards 2016, and Australia’s leading sustainability awards – the Banksia Awards 2015. “I was so nervous, I couldn’t eat. We couldn’t afford for anyone else to fly with me to Sydney, so I had to brave it by myself. I remember feeling grateful that I had had similar presentations throughout my degrees at Monash that prepared me for what I was walking into,” Eleanor said explaining what it was like going to present at the Banksia Awards. “Because of my training, I knew a little of what to expect”.

“I am just so incredibly excited and proud of what we are doing. It just keeps going and getting momentum. It does feel hard, though. Quite hard. I think for me, the most difficult bit is not knowing what’s next. Will it fizzle out or will we be able to employ ourselves in the future? So it is a bit of a mixed bag sometimes,” Eleanor added.

Stephen added, “this entire experience has been filled with exciting stepping stones. It offers a lot of opportunity and insight into a whole manner of different sectors. If we had never done this, we wouldn’t have gotten these insights. So I’m glad I’m on this route”.

Eleanor has continued to be involved in the Monash community, speaking at the Green Steps 15th birthday panel this week, and returning to take part in the Arts Inside Monash Seminar Series this year, which lets prospective students know more about where study with Monash could lead them. For Eleanor and Stephen, it’s certainly lead them down some very exciting paths. 

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