Maria Fiori

Fashion, passion and creative thinking: How the UN’s Sustainable Goals are inspiring RGU students into action

By Lewis Walker - 01 November 2022

This series of articles explores the journey of the winners of the EIG Sustainable Goals Student Ideas Competition.

The EIG Sustainable Goals Student Ideas Competition is focused on inspiring students to contribute towards tackling the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as set by the United Nations. The RGU Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group (EIG) led competition aims to encourage students to take innovative, creative and proactive approaches to tackling these challenges through supporting sustainably focused early-stage business innovations while also strengthening future employability.

Sponsored by the RGU Foundation Annual Fund, every month students can win cash prizes, raise their profile, give back, and be rewarded for thinking innovatively.

Top prize winner in the latest competition run was Craig Stewart, a School of Engineering student who entered his idea in the Social Impact category and came away winning a £100 Amazon voucher.

Craig’s entry, Autonomous Energy, harnessed the importance of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals and led to something that was both proactive and practical. “I am an artist as well as an electrical engineer, sometimes my mind runs riot and I come up with ideas as to how a problem could be solved”, he said.

“I developed an idea for energy research along the way and submitted it to the appropriate goal as I thought it could have potential not only for ourselves but others in the developing world too”.

Talking about the competition as a whole, Craig said it was an ideal opportunity to test his own ideas while also encouraging him to think bolder and more creatively. He is currently undertaking a PHD, investigating Underwater Wireless Sensor Networks, but is also keen to further develop the ideas and research projects that spark to the forefront of his mind.


Lisa Mundie was the grateful recipient of a £50 Amazon voucher having won highly commended in the Contribution to Local Community category with her idea to introduce a paper-making department at Gray’s School of Art.

As a student at RGU I was excited to enter the competition. It was a simple process and I just spoke honestly about something I have spent time researching and thinking about. The day I received the email to say I’d won I had just gotten back from teaching a class of 11-year-olds how to make their own paper - It was a surreal day!”.

The idea was born out of her belief that “recycling and sustainability is a very important part of the future” and was something she’d been thinking about throughout her time at Gray’s. She’s hopeful that her idea can come to fruition now that she’s back on campus and taking on her fourth and final year of a Contemporary Art Practice degree.

Maria Fiori, inset, also claimed a £50 Amazon voucher for her entry in the Innovation category which focused on TENCEL, a sustainable and environmentally responsible fashion brand option. Explaining the passion behind her competition entry, she said: “The fashion industry, one of the oldest industrial sectors ever existed, is among the most polluting industries in the world, second only to oil and gas.

“It is of utmost importance for society, not only to focus on the adoption of conscious practices within the supply chain but also to rethink the afterlife cycle of the products. People won’t stop purchasing clothes and they will not be able to re-think their buying habits any time soon.

“However, it is the industry's duty to offer consumers adequate services for the reuse, recycling, and re-purposing of existing garments, hence prolonging, or even re-starting the life cycle of every single item of clothing thus lowering the need for new production.

A School of Creative and Cultural Business student, Maria tied her idea in with the 12th SDG which focusses on responsible consumption and production. She is realistic that “changing the fashion world won’t happen in a day or in a year” but believes “every idea deserves to be heard” and has a belief that with “time, future thinkers and plenty of innovative, actionable ideas”, change is possible.

Encapsulating the ambitious nature of RGU’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group, Maria wants to “transform the fashion industry into a more equal, just, and conscious world, one step at a time”.

If you, like Craig, Lisa and Maria, have an innovative idea that supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, you can enter the monthly EIG Sustainable Goals Student Ideas Competition today.

Entries can be made with just 150 words and the only requirement is that you’re a current RGU student. For any queries please contact Aisha Kasim, Student Enterprise Coordinator.

Images show students Maria Fiori and Craig Stewart.

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