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Sustainability Spotlight: High School Students Make Sustainable Soaps

Last year, you may have heard about the bugs that bring us together – a group of PHS research students who started raising black soldier fly larvae and realized these little critters were quite valuable. The fly larvae could eat food waste and were an excellent staple food for catfish, tilapia, and chickens. Better yet, their high-fat content meant they also made great oils, and from that, the students could make soap. Amazing, right? For this effort, they won the National Grand Prize in the 2021-22 Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Competition (watch the Bug that Brings Us Together video) and 1st Place in the New Jersey Student Climate Challenge’s high school category (check out the Bug Power! video). 

Sustainability Spotlight: High School Students Make Sustainable Soaps

To build on this success and continue the legacy of these upperclassmen, another group of PHS research students created Science to Startup (S2S). S2S is a student-run club that aims to make an impact by applying science, creativity, and entrepreneurship to their research projects. S2S students aspire to transform their research into a small business that creates social value by supporting sustainability efforts and developing entrepreneurship skills.

S2S students quickly learned that there was a limit to how many soldier fly larvae they could raise, but they wanted to make sustainable soaps. They started by planting sunflowers, hoping to generate oil from their seeds, but they quickly learned that birds also love these seeds. Now, they are investigating ways to grow canola, and in the meantime, the lab orders sustainably sourced coconut, sunflower, or canola oil so students can craft their soaps in molds. Not only are these soaps beautifully molded and scented, but they also work like any other soap to sanitize. (Students also test each new type of soap they create in the lab to ensure its ability to combat E.coli.) The soaps are then wrapped in paper and sold locally within the high school, at Lupita Groceries and Princeton Makes, and online at solfeliz.com

S2S students are eager to scale up production, to grow their own seeds for oil, and to create liquid soaps. Maybe one day, the soap dispensers within the school could even use soaps made by students. Who knows? By applying science and entrepreneurship, S2S students are creating social value  - one bar at a time!


 

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