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Global studies student brews up guilt-free coffee

May 3, 2022

Most students spend their last semester at university yearning for downtime and recovering from the stresses of final exams – but Samantha Sutherland is full of beans.

In her final semester, the Bachelor of Global Studies (Sustainability) student launched Carbon Clear – a social enterprise aimed at offsetting the carbon associated with cups of coffee.

“Three in four Australians drink coffee, so there’s huge market potential there. I thought, why not capitalise on that?” Ms Sutherland says.

“People are becoming more environmentally conscious. They want to know that their coffee has been curated guilt-free, and that it’s carbon-neutral before they take a sip.”

Carbon Clear works as part of the tap-and-go payment system offered at cafes.

“Customers will be asked if they want to pay an extra five cents at the counter, which will redivert the funds into a separate account to be forwarded to a carbon farmer, who will offset the associated emissions,” she says.

“The sale of 735 cups of coffee will generate enough money to plant a tree. According to the National Coffee Association, an independent coffee shop can sell roughly 200-300 cups per day, whereas a large chain coffee shop can sell an astounding 700 cups of coffee per day.”

Ms Sutherland, who currently works at an environmental consulting firm and interns with an organic certification company, believes carbon labels influence consumer purchasing decisions.

“We are seeing a change in the way consumers make decisions, and I believe that if consumers have the ability to make carbon positive purchases, they are becoming more inclined to do so.

“I believe Carbon Clear presents a huge opportunity for cafes and coffee consumers across the nation.”

Carbon Clear was one of four business ideas pitched to a panel of industry judges as part of Bond University’s semesterly Transformer Launchpad competition. 

First year Architecture student Sophia Livanidis received a welcome funding boost of $2000, taking out first place in the competition with her forward-thinking fashion label, Livan.

Miss Livanidis’s label focuses on empowering women through sustainable and stylish designs.

“I have created a clothing brand for women by repurposing men’s suits. I know that many women prefer to wear clothing that is a bit oversized but want to look professional and feel good about themselves at the same time," says Miss Livanidis.

“My designs combine femininity with masculine features such as the broad shoulders in a men’s suit to make women of all shapes and sizes feel confident and stylish.”

Transformer is an Australian-first entrepreneurship program offered as a fee-free, extracurricular option to undergraduate and postgraduate students from all disciplines.