Canadians waste. We waste a lot.

Landfills are filled with more and more items like food, single-use plastics, and anything else we discard after it’s served its purpose. But it is possible to reduce the amount of waste generated nationally by coming up with solutions, thinking of innovative ways to fix, repurpose, or add value to what is usually considered as garbage.

And that’s why this year’s Shads will create an original product or service to help Canadians impactfully reduce their waste.  

“At the end of the summer, we will have close to 200 design-based solutions that address waste in Canada, and a cohort of students empowered to make tangible impacts on the world,” said Tim Jackson, President & CEO of Shad Canada.

Students at Shad York took a trip to Canada Fibers waste sorting facility

During the program, students work in diverse teams and learn how to build business and marketing plans, research and engineer a prototype. With a focus on critical thinking and design development, Shads are challenged to pitch their ideas to broader teams and in most cases, a panel of judges.

“Design thinking skills gives them the ammunition and the approach to look at any problem in whatever space they go into,” says Lucas Chang, Program Co-Director at Shad York, which is Shad’s newest campus.

The entrepreneurial spirit remains long after the Shad program with almost 20 per cent of Shads launching a start-up at some point in their career.

“In high school they are really motivated to make a difference and they are already in their communities doing incredible work,” says Kaaren May, Shad Program Director and Director of Sustainable Industry Research at the University of PEI. “And the design project gives them other ways they can do that on an even a bigger scale.” 

Near the end of the program, Shads will show-off their projects during an Open Day held at each campus on July 25. The event is free and open to the public.