Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Math Teacher Becomes Social Entrepreneur by Creating a Simple Equation to Save the Rain Forest

 

For Priya Dua, being a math teacher wasn’t only about teaching children how to add and subtract.

“Math is one of the most misunderstood academic subjects,” Dua says. “Most kids think that math isn’t relevant to their life. But in fact, math is all around us. By understanding how to use math as a tool, students can understand the world better and thus be more equipped to be positive contributors to society.”

Dua always made it a point to use real-world scenarios when teaching her students about the practical application of math. She stressed that, with math, one can better understand the world and be more equipped to make a positive change to it.

A trip to Jamaica challenged Dua to put her teaching philosophies to the test. While visiting the tropical country, Dua was saddened to hear that that most of Jamaica’s rain forests have been destroyed permanently due to slash and burn agriculture, a controversial and extremely destructive method of deforestation.

Priya Dua - Founder

“We depend on our rain forests for air, water, medicinal cures and so much more. Rain forests harbor over fifty percent of the world’s biodiversity. Deforestation accounts for almost twenty percent of our yearly carbon emissions. The way things are going, all of the Earth’s rain forests will be gone in forty to fifty years.”

Dua took these figures back to her classroom, using the opportunity to teach her students how math can be used to understand the importance of nature conservation. However, as someone who always felt a concern for the environment, she wanted to do more. But much like math, Dua still needed the formula to help her find the solution.

The formula came to her one day in an unexpected form. Dua traveled to India, where she spent time learning about the Chipko Movement, an inspirational preservationist effort which first took place in eighteenth century in the Himalayas. Inspired, Dua decided to retrace the footsteps of the Chipko Movement by designing a sandal that stands for environmental preservation. The distinctive square shape of the sandal embodies a “stand for square feet” campaign; for every pair of Chipkos sandals sold, 100 square feet of the rain forest will be protected.

The calculation was simple. If the company could sell one million units of their unique “Indian-esque” sandal, they could adopt one hundred million square feet of the rain forest, a significant accomplishment that sounded like a great first goal. One of the early decisions for the company that Mrs. Dua is “glad she did” was ignoring the temptation of having a large product line. As a first entrance the company elected to have only one product and one style which represented a “wearable badge and a unifying expression of guardianship of the future.”

Since the launch of the company on Earth Day of 2011, the company is on its way tomaking this positive change. With the help of social media, Chipkos has quickly gained popularity among both the eco-aware and the general public. The company uses several avenues of social media to make the company as accessible as possible to the mainstream, including:

Facebook (www.chipkos.com/facebook)
Twitter (www.chipkos.com/twitter)
Flickr (www.flickr.com/photos/chipkos)
YouTube (www.chipkos.com/video)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibYDW651JLw

Priya is also one of the authors of “Good Green Stuff”, the Chipkos Blog which promotes other companies in the green space, and has a growing readership base. The company keeps itself relevant by constantly promoting social media campaigns that allow everyone to participate in the movement. This includes their recent “Like for Square Feet” campaign which promises the adoption of one square foot of the rain forest for every Facebook “Like” received (www.chipkos.com/facebook).

As a result of all of its efforts, Chipkos is growing fast and garnering ongoing buzz within the blogosphere. Additionally, the company is set to feature on several television spots for various markets around the world.

As a social entrepreneur, Priya still has the heart of a teacher. One of the aspects of the Chipkos adoption program funds efforts to educate children on the importance of maintaining fragile ecosystems throughout the world. This program allows the company to educate children on the importance of conservation, and instill a commitment to the planet and to protecting a shared future. As advice to other budding entrepreneurs, Priya says, “stay true to yourself and keep informed. Read, read, read.”

When it came time to name her company, Dua went for originality as much as she went for relevancy. The company takes inspiration from the Chipko Movement, one of the first nature preservation efforts which first took place in the eighteenth century in the Himalayas. The Chipko Movement brought masses of people together in support of one, unifying goal. Chipkos intends to use the same principles of people power to achieve their goal of adopting at least 100 million square feet of the rain forest.

Though nature preservation is at the core of the company, it is not only what Chipkos is known for. The Adoption line of sandals features all-sustainable materials and a truly comfortable design. The style of the sandal is probably the most distinctive as it is square shape best embodies the company’s slogan and square footage adoption campaign…Stand for Square Feet.

Dua still tutors math in Los Angeles on a daily basis, instructing kids on how to use math as a tool to instill change in society.

For more on Chipkos, visit www.chipkos.com.

By Kristine Munroe-Mahoney, Community Manager at Keen For Green

Kristine Munroe-Mahoney is the Community Manager of Keen For Green, a multi-blogger community that focuses on being eco-friendly in everyday life. She also writes the “Green Newton” column for a Patch website in her community and blogs for Thanks Mama, a cloth diaper retailer. http://www.keenforgreen.com, http://newton.patch.com, http://thanksmama.com

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3 Responses to “Math Teacher Becomes Social Entrepreneur by Creating a Simple Equation to Save the Rain Forest”

  1. Hey, Have you tried KeyStageTwo.com ?? It is a ‘must’ for any children during the KeyStageTwo level of thier education! (ages 7-11)
    It’s a virtual learning environment that is also game focused, ensuring both academic and non-academic children benefit greatly.
    Worth a look…. for schools, parents, children, AND tutors!

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  2. [...] things are going, all of the Earth’s rain forests will be gone in forty to fifty years," said [...]


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