Sleeping outside, in the cold, is the daily life of millions of homeless people in France. To help them combat the low temperatures, four biology students had an ingenious idea: to make a blanket that is both insulating and heated. This university project, called “Move on EcoBlanket”, now aims to leave the walls of the university to be produced on a large scale. Objective: to distribute these blankets for free to people in need. A solidarity initiative that does not lack human warmth.
Émilie, Anushia, Youssra and Dilan started working on this unique object last year, when they were in their 3rd year of their biology license at the University of Cergy (Val-d’Oise). West France† The four students, gathered as part of a common task, have chosen to work to improve the living conditions of the homeless. After talking to several people who lived on the streets of Paris, they discovered that an essential item for their survival was not always optimal: their blanket.
“The blankets some homeless have, usually throws, are useful and warm until they get wet from rain or snow, for example. (…) Survival blankets, on the other hand, insulate well against bad weather and help stabilize body temperature.”
Move on EcoBlanket, in a post instagram
Faced with this observation, the four friends set out to find a device that is both waterproof and heated to best protect the homeless from the cold and inclement weather. “However, it is important to note that no cover can replace a roof, which remains the primary solution to this problem” specify the students on their project’s Instagram account.
An ingenious and environmentally friendly cover
To develop their waterproof cover, Émilie, Anushia, Youssra and Dilan were mainly inspired by the movement of the water droplets on the lotus leaves, indicates West France† But then lotus-based fabrics are too expensive and made in Asia. The students then turn to a more affordable and still natural alternative: a cotton fabric fused with beeswax packaging.
For the heating side, they opted for sheep’s wool and cellulose wadding. A layer of organic cotton fabric has also been added to the cover for extra comfort. The biology students were then able to present their first prototype during their defense, in June 2021.
A fundraiser to continue the project on a large scale
Now that they have graduated, Anushia and her friends are determined to continue their project to the very end. The young women have launched a collection on the collaboration platform Wweeddoo, with which they have already raised 500 euros. According to them, every blanket would have production costs “between 50 and 100 euros”† They hope to raise more money to be able to produce their object on a large scale. But before that, the four friends want to team up with designers to create a first final prototype of their electric blanket.
Their prospecting continues to achieve a goal dear to the students: to distribute these blankets for free to homeless people living in Ile-de-France and then the rest of France.