Student receives 50k grant for sustainable business

Climate change is an issue at the forefront of most students’ minds. Many of us are beginning to make lifestyle changes like becoming vegetarian and boycotting single-use plastic wherever possible. UEA student George Bailey, however, has taken this one step further by starting up an environmentally sustainable business of his own. The nineteen-year-old has created a new range of sustainable glasses frames made from recycled fish nets. 

The student says that he aims to rid the oceans of harmful ‘ghost fishing nets’ which are fishing nets that have been discarded in the ocean by fishermen. These nets trap everything in their path, pollute the waters, kill marine life and can be nearly invisible to the naked eye. The nets don’t just trap fish, but also kill sharks, seals, dolphins and sea turtles too. Hundreds of animals can be entangled in a single net: this is a monumental problem. Ghost nets make up at least 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.   

Bailey’s initiative has won a £50,000 grant from the University of East Anglia’s ‘Scale It’ which is a fund that makes investments for social/commercial ventures looking to secure sustainable growth. This will enable the young entrepreneur to make an even bigger impact in the effort to rid the oceans of single-use plastic. The second year Economics student plans to launch his eyewear range – named Coral Eyewear – in January 2020, which will feature six optical frames as well as a range of sunglasses.  

Speaking to the Metro, the UEA student stated that he’s been inspired by the big characters in climate change such as David Attenborough and that he would like it to come across that everyone can make a difference.

The current estimate for abandoned fishing nets in our oceans is around 640,000 tons. It is believed that there are around nine million glasses frames made per year. The plan is that manufacturers at a family-run factory in Italy will produce the frames by melting the plastic into an injection mold, and these will eventually be distributed to retailers. 

George Bailey has already been approached by a number of major retailers, independent opticians and individual shoppers who already want to buy his frames.   


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Jake Walker-Charles