Uni Life

Mosquito Repellent Clothing: Borne x University of Newcastle

Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimised by the Callaghan campus mosquitos! Gemma Hawkins speaks to Borne, a Newcastle-based company making an impact towards a local and global issue.

The University of Newcastle has collaborated with Borne, a Newcastle-based student start-up, bringing you a special collection of mosquito repellent t-shirts – now available in-store and online at the University’s merchandise store, The Shop. Borne’s Chief Impact Officer, Bal Dhital, shared their experience building up the company, the motivation behind it, and a heart-warming first encounter with a customer.

The Borne team, consisting of Tim Keys, Dan Robson, Pat Prel, and Bal Dhital, entered the University of Newcastle’s Grand Challenge, a pitching competition focused on solving the local and global issue of mosquitos. Their goal is to make mosquito repellent clothing stylish and accessible while also making a difference. The team were aware mozzie-repellent technology already existed in hiking and outdoor clothing but couldn’t fathom why it wasn’t being used elsewhere.

Bal spoke about the serious consequences of malaria, a disease carried by mosquitos, “Out of all the facts and figures that we could get our hands on, there was one that overwhelmingly stood out: that every two minutes, a child dies from malaria. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, that number has become even worse, with one child under the age of 5 passing away almost every single minute. The awful truth is that this is preventable. We know that tools like insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and preventative medications have a significant and established impact. The biggest issue is funding these interventions.”

Along with donating half of their profits to Nothing But Nets, a UN initiative, Borne set out three key values: “First, our clothing should be sustainably sourced – that’s why we use 100% organic cotton certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard. Second, our clothing should be ethically made – that’s why we work with FairWear Foundation-approved manufacturers. Third, our clothing should be as carbon neutral as possible – that’s why we calculate and offset our carbon footprint to Gold Standard criteria.” Following this framework, Borne is an eCommerce social enterprise with a whole lot of exciting products on the horizon!

Although Borne’s future is big, its beginnings were humble. Bal shared, “There’s a photo we have saved that is very dear to us – it’s one of us with the first customer we had that none of us knew! Since then, we’ve been blown away by the support we’ve had, and by the sheer number of people who are on the lookout to avoid mozzie bites! We’re glad that our mission is one that people can get behind, and we can’t wait to see people walking around the uni with a Borne tee on their back and their impact-driven-hearts on their sleeves!”

The University of Newcastle x Borne special collection is available through The Shop. The long sleeve and t-shirts are available in black or white and feature unique designs special to the Callaghan campus. Bal explained, “It’s a callout to the university campus, to the flora and fauna, and, of course, to the mozzies. It’s pretty hard to walk from one end to the other without getting bitten by a mozzie!”

Join Borne’s journey towards ending mosquito-borne diseases, like malaria, one mozzie-free tee at a time!

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