Sustainability startup and Simpleweb investee Giki has launched its ‘Tools for Schools’ to offer free educational resources to help teachers and parents discuss sustainability and environmental topics with children as young as four and five.

I have been struck how even the youngest children ‘get it’

The new campaign came about after Giki’s Palm Oil Audit and the launch of the sustainable palm oil badge to its app in 2018, which allows users to quickly scan products to see if they contain sustainable palm oil.

Giki awards a badge for sustainable palm oil and shows the badge when palm oil is present but non-sustainable

Jo Hand Giki’s co-founder tells us: “During our sustainable palm oil campaign we were approached by teachers and those working with children who were keen to use Giki as an education tool.

“We also hear regularly from parents that their children love using it, so launching additional tools to support this work, was a very natural next step.”

Part of the appeal for using the Giki app is in its simplicity. Users can scan a products’ barcode and return a number of badges which can be used to help determine if it ticks off some of our biggest concerns about health and the environment.

By building in simplicity and focusing on an easy user experience, Giki had unintentionally built an app that could also be used to engage children in learning about the environment and how what we buy affects it.

“I have been struck how even the youngest children ‘get it’,” Jo adds. “They are really interested in the effects unsustainable palm oil is having on biodiversity and animals such as orangutans.”

Green communities

The Giki badges app has grown a steady following, particularly on social media, since its launch in 2017 – with many of its followers using Twitter to encourage manufacturers to use more sustainable and safer ingredients in their products.

As well as Twitter, Giki runs a Palm Oil Audit Facebook group to bring together its most passionate users to help them share knowledge around sustainable palm oil.

It was through this group that the Eco Tools for Schools Facebook group came about, which now has a growing membership of parents and teachers supporting each other and sharing resources for use in schools and at home.

Mission focus

With a strong mission at its roots, Giki is a social enterprise which means that all its profits go back into its environmental mission.

We are also making our data and analysis available via an API

Jo explains: “What we stand for resonates really strongly with many people in the UK who, like us, want to reduce human impact on our environment.

“We are all motivated for different reasons, but our community realise that by using Giki they can reduce their own environmental impact.

“Equally importantly, by telling others to use Giki, they are expanding their positive impact on the planet by spreading the word and empowering others to have a positive impact too.”

Giki champions

As well as providing useful resources, Tools for Schools has connected a community of Giki users with some inspiring results. Standing out is a visit Jo took to a school in Stow, on the Scottish Borders, to help them launch their work on palm oil.

“Stow Primary has done a huge amount of work on environmental issues, in particular tackling plastic pollution locally”, Jo tells us.

“It was impressive and inspiring to talk to the children about why they cared so much. We had a really fun and exciting assembly and then I visited the classes afterwards. By the time I got round to the year sixes, they had already decided to change the supplier for their bread and margarine within a school breakfast café they ran to avoid unsustainable palm oil.”

She adds: “It gave me hope for the future of our planet to see such an engaged and committed group of children, accompanied by a pioneering teaching team, helping reduce human impacts on the environment.”

In addition to this inspiring primary school visit, Giki has attracted some passionate volunteers.

“I have been so impressed by a lady in Newquay, Jane Griffiths,” Jo says. “A retired English teacher, she has visited various local schools and brought issues of unsustainable palm oil to the fore in Newquay. As a result, she has just launched a campaign called Newquay Supports Sustainable Palm Oil, and is working with Newquay Zoo among others, using Giki’s palm oil detector within our app to drive change across the whole community.”

Giki volunteers

As well as using the app and resources available, Giki now has an option to sign-up as a volunteer.

Jo adds: “If you have a community you want to mobilise to take action to reduce our impact – please get involved. We have volunteers using Giki to educate local scout groups, their own colleagues at work, or on university campuses too.

“We are also making our data and analysis available via an API, so please get in touch if you’d like access to it.”

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