USD Student Entrepreneur Transforms Waste Food into Sustainable Smoothies

It’s smooth, it’s sustainable, it’s refreshing—it’s a sustainable smoothie from Re:Fresh Smoothies, a social enterprise concept that won first prize at the University of San Diego’s preliminary competition for this year’s Fowler Global Innovation Challenge.

Austin Hirsh, a USD graduate student and inventor of Re:Fresh Smoothies, went on to compete in the worldwide round of the Fowler contest on June 15, in which 44 teams of student entrepreneurs from 12 countries competed. Re:Fresh Smoothies finished in the top 10 and received the Audience Choice Award.

The Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge is a social-venture pitch competition that recognizes and rewards student-led social ventures focused on sustainable change.

Austin Hirsh has developed a product that turns rejected produce into a dried mix for healthy smoothies.

Hirsh hit upon the idea for Re:Fresh as a way to reduce food waste while promoting healthy eating. He uses imperfect and surplus produce to create instant smoothie mixes. Simply pour the dry contents of a packet into a blender with ice and water, and you’ve got a sustainable smoothie.

“What I’m trying to do is curb the food-waste issue in America,” Hirsh said in his “Shark Tank”-like pitch at the USD event. “Also, I drink a smoothie every day. And it was really annoying to have to get different ingredients from the pantry and the freezer and the fridge and have, like, six bags out. So I wanted a solution where I could get all of the ingredients in one package.”

Hoola One, a machine that removes microplastics from beaches, won the top Changemaker Award and a grand prize of $22,000 in the global competition.

Truely, a team of students from San Diego State, took second place in the worldwide Changemaker category for their idea to create a new breed of pure, plant-made plastics to replace traditional petrochemical-based plastic products.

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