Innovation as Activism

— Written By Luke Shealy

Young Woman presenting at a confrence. There is a large screen behind her. She is speaking into a microphone

As we continue to discuss, there are so many forms of activism. Business and innovation can also be an arena for activism to take form and create change. We recently spoke with Sanskriti Deva, a young entrepreneur who created the SMART can while in high school.

Deva saw the importance of separating waste into compostable material, recyclables, and trash. For sustainable management of our resource, everything couldn’t just be thrown away. She also realized that manually separating trash from reusable materials like cardboard or aluminum can be confusing and time consuming. That identified problem sparked her initial idea for the SMART can: a trash can capable of automatically sorting through waste and filling three separate bins.

This was by no means an easy journey. Completing her first functioning prototype took months and she needed to learn new skills such as coding and machining to create it. The final product uses image-capturing technology to identify each object and then sort it to the correct bin. Her work ethic and idea inspired others. Deva secured a mentor in the business space who introduced her to possible investors and customers!

Currently, the SMART can is going through testing in an environment similar to its eventual deployment. Deva is checking to ensure it’s accuracy lives up to her exceptions!

Listen to the full story here!

Questions For Extended Dialogue

  • Do you think it is possible for a business to be an activist? What has influenced your current belief of this?
  • Can you think of another product that has a positive impact on society?
  • What are some limitations of working through a business to achieve positive social change?