OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Teaching kids about sustainability with bean bags (Updated on 5/01/18)

Using Nike Grind to fill stuffed animals and bean bags that can teach children about environmental sustainability and circular economy.

Photo of Jiacheng Lou
4 6

Written by

Recycling old shoes and clothes into Nike Grind materials is one important step towards a sustainable future, but there are many more things we can do to protect the environment. We would like to use Nike Grind to teach children about our environment and what they can do to protect it.

We propose using the Nike Grind materials to fill stuffed animals and bean bags shaped like endangered animals (e.g. Panda, Dolphin, Rhino). These animals would be sold together with a book explaining the child why these animals are endangered and what the child can do to protect the environment, prevent waste and live sustainably. 

Many children form a close bond with their stuffed animals. In this way, the stuffed animals and bean bags can help to raise the kid’s attention to the issue and motivate them to take action to live a sustainable life.    

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)


Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Granulate

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

The Nike Grind materials would be used to fill the stuffed animals and bean bags. In order to figure out what mixture of Nike Grind materials would be best for which purpose, some prototyping with the actual materials could be very useful. For the outer covering, we would like to use another sustainable material, like a hemp-based fabric.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Prototyping
  • Piloting

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Learning about sustainability is important for children all around the world. The target market of the stuffed animals and bean bags would be children between the ages of 5 and 10.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

Scaling of this product could be more of utilizing it for different purposes. It can be used as a body pillow or bean bag based on its filling. This would mean it will be available for schools and other common places where eco-friendly products are promoted.

How is your idea innovative?

While stuffed animals and bean bags are not a new idea, our product combines them with an educational aspect. Helping parents develop the concept of sustainability for their children. To make the product truly sustainable, we would like to use a hemp-based outer covering, which is environmentally friendly, durable and easy to maintain. Our idea will also ensure that a company's CSR is fulfilled by sending a strong message to people about endangered species via our beanbags.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

We are a team of 5 students from NYU. We are a diverse group coming from different countries (China, India, Germany) and studying in different programs (Management of Technology, Music Technology, Management Information Systems, Psychology).

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


Attachments (1)


The feedbacks that we have collected for the beanbag.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thank you Jiacheng Lou and team. I like how you are mixing the circular economy with an educational aspect. It is extremely important to take a system perspective to address these issues and I think education is an important element for the long run.
It reminded me of wekesa zab idea You might want to read it and comment on it. I am sure he has feedback to provide you thanks to his experience as an educator. I like also his idea of having kids making their own animals and wondered if this something you would consider:

You might also want to check AADHITHYA SUJITH idea of bean bags

I was looking for programs or partnerships and I found this interesting program:
I can imagine that you could either partner with a company making toys / stuffed animals or you could also partner with a zoo or an organization protecting endangered species. It might be worth for your team to think about this.
You might want to use the experience user journey map I shared yesterday to start thinking about how people will hear about your product and how they will purchase it.
Thinking about partnerships is also important.
I like your first sketches. It might be worth exploring a bit further - maybe picking 2 or 3 species and coming up with mock ups that we could show to potential users.

Another partnership I thought of is the project Jerry the Bear ( the focus is on diabetes but what if there was a series of Jerry the Bears who would teach children also about endangered species?

The only thing you might want to look into are issues of safety when it comes to children.

Looking forward to seeing your idea evolve.

Photo of wekesa zab

Jiacheng Lou  this is super interesting. I love it! working with our Chapter partners Ocean sole. they Had this bean bags in the kids play areas. They were stuffed with EVA .. I find one of those inspirations from the amazing Marissa Louie.

View all comments