By Ellen Coates

When it comes to delegate bags at conferences, it should be fairly straight forward. Have bags made with your logo on them, hopefully, get sponsorship so you don’t have to cover all the costs, make sure the bags have stuff in them for the delegates (pens, brochures, notepads etc) and away you go.

But what happens to most of these bags? I have been to two conferences in the last two years and both bags (with the remains of the goodies I couldn’t find an immediate use for but which might come in handy in the future) are currently rolled up on a shelf in the bottom of my desk. I’m sure others’ bags are in similar positions to mine. So for NLS9, we wanted to make sure that the delegate bags don’t suffer the same fate.

From day one, the emphasis of NLS9 has been on sustainability, including providing relevant, reusable material for our delegates. So we’ve been talking to local South Australian publishers to provide books, along with practical items like note pads, badges and magnets.  We’re trying to make sure the content will be useful and reusable as well as exciting. We wanted to be sure that we could apply the same principle to the bags themselves.

Following this concept led us to Boomerang Bags. They are an Australian company which recycles old fabric and makes them into beautiful bags.

Not only will we have individual bags that the delegates get to use again, but we also had the added fun of helping to source the material, to be part of the process of the creation of our bags. Boomerang Bags takes donations of fabric from op shops to make their bags. The NLS9 committee scoured op shops to find a wide variety of fabric and it was all shipped up to Boomerang Bags last week.

We’ve really enjoyed sourcing the material and love that we get to be part of creating NLS9 bags that will hopefully be used and reused again. Sourcing material in this way also makes the bags very well-travelled. The committee comes from all over Australia and so will our bags. Finally creating the bags this way holds true to NLS9’s themes; we have deviated from the norm, innovated to create and fill the bags, and of course collaborated to source the material, these bags hopefully represent the core of NLS9.

If you don’t want your bag you can return it to a Boomerang Bags collection point so someone else can use it when they are doing their shopping or picking up books from their local library.

There are over 800 Boomerang Bag communities around the world, making bags and making them available for people to take and use, to help reduce the use of plastics bags.

More information about Boomerang Bags can be found here https://boomerangbags.org/

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