Zero Waste Youth Conference?

Goodie Bags

One of PFS’s awesome volunteers Angie helping with the sorting of our goodie bags.  We wanted to give out a thank you present to the participants that was useful and meaningful so we decided to make a ‘No Excuse for Single Use’ pack which contains a stainless steel fork, spoon, chopsticks, straw and cleaning brush with a shopping bag.  With this was a stainless steel water bottle.  There were four suppliers for the ‘No Excuses’ kit, one for the cutlery, another for the brushes and straws, the third Chico Bag, for the pouches.  Chico bag also produced the shopping bag with both items made from 100% recycled polyester from PET water bottles.  The stainless steel water bottle was made by Klean Kanteen.

The Goodie Bag - wins & fails

The Good News …
We requested everything that we expected to be packaged to be bulk wrapped to reduce packaging.
The chopsticks and the cleaning brushes came bulk packed in one bag, the Chico Bag order was all in cardboard boxes only – no plastic.
The Not-so-Good news …
The straws were packed two to a plastic sleave and the cutlery was all individually wrapped in thin film plastic.   The Klean Kanteens were individual wrapped in compostable plastic in cardboard slots.  We have spoken to Klean Kanteen and the cutlery and straw suppliers about this for future orders and all have been receptive to change where possible and practical.

Sponsor Signage & Message Board

The sponsor signage was tricky.  We wanted something that would be fun and reflected the youth part of what we were doing so a traditional white board printed with logos wouldn’t be good.  Whilst at the Eco Expo Asia we noticed the entrance display which featured the hand held signs.  After some phone calls and emails we were able to take them for reuse after the show.  They would be great for photos with sponsors logos and messages from the students and that they were reused and made from recycled cardboard and wood fitted in very well with our plan.  We re-covered some with a washable plastic film so we could use whiteboard markers on them and some were covered with recycled paper logos.

The Backdrop

The backdrop had to tie in with the beach so naturally we created this with waste items that we had amassed over our cleanups.  Everything from plastic bags, balloons, bottle caps, drink bottles to shoes, toys, cutlery and plastic flowers were used.  We wanted people to look at it and wonder why so much of this stuff was ending up on the beach.  Many thanks to the volunteers who helped build the structure with bamboo also salvaged from the beach.

Our life ring was also salvaged and appropriately renamed.

The Name Tags

Thanks to volunteer Trish for her very neat handwriting of most of the name cards that were repurposed from the Klean Kanteen cardboard box inserts.  Ribbon was also used from a donated supply.

Filtered Water

It was something we were very determined to have – filtered water only.  We worked with the venue and also the caterers to come up with solutions.  In the end we had the best – Life Solutions.  They were able to hook up a couple of their machines that they donated for our use for the conference (although wrapped in a lot of packaging to protect the machines – some of this was reused when they took them away).   The water was delicious!  A little bit of planning made a huge difference – this hadn’t been done before at the venue so it set a very good example.


The catering was the hardest to achieve what we wanted.  In the end we chose Hong Chi Association not only as they could accommodate all our requests but also because it meant we could also support their work too.  They are a wonderful organisation helping thousands of people with disabilities in all aspects of their lives.  We had lengthy discussions about not using single serve portions (sugar, milk) with the tea/coffee, using only washable plates and cutlery (include spoons for tea/coffee).   Fine tuning the menu to cut down on food waste (which we were told would be composted if there was any) and not covering trays with plastic wrap.  They were a great team to work with.

For our daily snacks the awesome Stella* made treats for everyone that could be eaten without plates and weren’t messy to cut down on napkin use too.  The food was packed in reusable containers.  

*if PFS had a Chief Snack Maker/Food Provider it would be Stella!