Say hello to the woman making solar panels for apartments

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Credit: Krystal Persaud, Grouphug Solar

Solar panels are pretty much impossible to acquire when you’re an apartment dweller. But not for long thanks to Krystal Persaud — the founder of Grouphug Solar, a NYC-based company committed to making solar panels for urbanites. After a successful Kickstarter and Shark Tank investment, Grouphug shows that more and more people are interesting in supporting sustainable businesses.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to found Grouphug?
Hello! My name is Krystal Persaud and I love designing products that make people smile. In high school, art and science were always presented on opposite ends of a spectrum, but I wanted to do both. I discovered the field of industrial design and never looked back. I started my career as a toy designer, so I know how to design experiences that are entertaining and educational. I realized that I could make important innovations, like solar panels, more accessible and exciting.

Why solar panels?
I’m a very eco-conscious person. I carry reusable tote bags, I use stainless water bottles, only buy thrifted clothes, etc — I try to do ALL of the things. But when it comes to renewable energy, I couldn’t find an easy way to incorporate it into my life. I live in an apartment in Brooklyn. There are personal solar panels on the market, but they are designed for camping — and that’s how the Window Solar Charger was born! I wanted a solar panel I could use every day that was beautiful enough to hang in my apartment.

I named the company “Grouphug” because I believe that small actions add up to a larger collective movement for good. The fundamental design of a solar panel hasn’t changed in over 50 years. Solar panels don’t have to be boring rectangles, they can be any shape or size. If you make something more exciting, I think the adoption rate will boom!

Accessibility is something our companies both strive for — why was it important to you to build a business around accessible and sustainable tech?
Renewable energy is SO vital in the fight against climate change. And unfortunately there is SUCH a high barrier to entry, not only cost-wise but also just knowledge. I think education is really one of the most important factors to creating real change. The Window Solar Charger is small, cute, and easy to understand. It’s a great way for someone to take their first step into solar energy. All of a sudden you SEE a solar panel every day at home. I hope people start to ask — hey if I have a solar panel in my window, why aren’t there at my office? Why aren’t they everywhere?

The more agency you can give more people — the more they can advocate for change.

What’s your favorite quick zero waste hack?
I haven’t used paper towels in about 10 years! We have a stack of cloth towels in the kitchen that we use and then immediately add to the laundry basket. It’s so easy! And it doesn’t matter what kind of towels, they don’t have to be fancy or new. You can just cut up one of your older towels or rags.

Thank you to Krystal for being an innovator in the sustainability space — what other change makers do you look up to in the sustainability movement? Let us know in the comments.

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