Wrybill Award winner’s innovation launched

The invention that won Julia Christensen Environment Canterbury's Wrybill Award last year was officially launched at the first official Student Volunteer Army event of the year.

The Big Give event, which took place at the Styx River Catchment, had students donating their time to clear overgrown vegetation, plant native trees and plants and clean up a section of the Styx River.

The volunteers used the Eco Gard to protect the plants they planted during the event.

The Eco Gard is the brainchild of 12-year-old Julia who created a 100 percent biodegradable guard which protects newly planted trees and shrubs from animals, wind and herbicide spray drift.

The invention won her Environment Canterbury's Wrybill Award along with an award from Callaghan Innovation last year.

Julia came up with the idea of Eco Gard after spotting the use of plastic plant protectors and recognising the incongruity of a non-sustainable option for plant protection. She tested a range of products before finally settling on the jute sacking cloth with bamboo stakes.

“I am excited to have the first full scale roll out of my invention happening this weekend with The Big Give. It’s a perfect opportunity to help protect the plantings, make an environmental contribution and reduce plastic usage,” Julia said.

The protector is now in commercial production, with Citycare being one of the first commercial supporters with their purchase for The Big Give.

“It’s great to not only support the Student Volunteer Army with their efforts but also nice to be able to support a young entrepreneur who is making great environmental decisions that will be of benefit to the whole community,” said Nige Cottingham of Citycare.