By Lachlan Mar, Year 6 student

Have you ever wondered how plastic clothes hangers get recycled into
stools? Or why some countries around the world are starting to scrap “best before
dates” on food items?

The Zero Waste Festival was an event held at Fed Square on the 17th
September this year (the first day of the school holidays), and it was an opportunity I
was fortunate enough to have experienced. As well as answering all the questions
above, plus supplying many other solutions to waste-related problems within our
community, this unique festival also had numerous displays educating people about
topics such as plastic recycling, wasted inks or making paper at home.

An amplitheatre full of people looking down towards a panel of speakers with a giant screen reading 'The Sharing Economy'.
Panels in The Edge (Photo credit: Julian Meehan)

There were a plethora of fascinating exhibitions which all opened my eyes to
a topic I had previously never thought much about, but one thing which I will never
forget is making plastic accessories out of clothes hangers. Precious Plastics
Monash, an organisation based around recycling old plastic products, has
designed an array of machines which help turn one plastic product into another, and
I was able to experience this amazing process first-hand.

First, the object (in this case a coat hanger) was dropped into a machine
which chopped it up into fine pieces. Then those plastic shards were put through
another machine which heated them up until they formed a viscous liquid. Finally,
that liquid could be put into a mould and shaped into the desired object (such as a

A busy atrium at Fed Sq with stalls, people walking around and the Precious Plastic group working machinary with people watching.
Precious Plastic Monash (Photo credit: Julian Meehan)

Throughout my visit, I learned the most from the live panel discussion about
food waste. Across from the exhibition area was a small theatre where anyone could
have a seat and listen to the fascinating panel discussions taking place every hour.
From this discussion, I gained new knowledge about what it means to
dumpster-dive, as well as why it is important not to throw out food based purely on
its “best before date”. Also, I became more aware of the effects of moral licensing
when composting, and how labelling food items in the fridge with tape could help to
reduce food waste.

As I was about to leave, I unexpectedly came across Ms Hui. I was proud to
discover that she was actually one of the co-founders of this festival!

Altogether, the Zero Waste Festival was one of the best experiences I had
throughout my holidays, and it was totally worth the entirety of my first day off from
school! It was interactive, interesting and definitely captivating, as well as being
highly educational. It opened my eyes to issues I had never before contemplated,
and taught me ways in which to live a more sustainable, zero-waste lifestyle.

A stallholder engages a customer with their own bag in the background amongst the clear containers of food (vegan meringes, nuts, crackers, pretzels) with round labels stacked and organised with scoopers on the table and a sign describing the mobile pantry - flour, nutes, oats, pulses, evoo, vegan, sugar, rices, seeds, spices, dried fruit, chocolate.
Rhys.Pect.Food (Photo credit: Julian Meehan)

By Rohan Mar, Year 4 student

During the holidays, my brother Lachlan and I went to a Zero-Waste Festival. When we got there, there were a lot more stalls than I expected. 

My favourite stall was one where you can buy food/snacks and there is no plastic (this is called a bulk food store) but instead they use paper bags. It was called Rhys Pect Food. We bought some chocolate covered pepitas and some BBQ corn. I learnt that you definitely don’t need plastic and it’s better to use paper bags or even better, bring your own container.

I also liked the Dodgy Paper stall where they recycle other papers that were wasted and turn it into new paper. We bought a few pieces of paper from them because I thought that they looked really abstract. I was extremely inspired by this stall and I’ll try and reuse paper.

I greatly liked this event and I think they should definitely hold it every year. I will certainly come next year to see the stalls and be inspired.

Looking down at three stacks of colourful recycled paper with the 'dodgy paper' slip on a table - including A4 magazine sheets, Xperimental sheets and limited packs).
Dodgy Paper (Photo credit: Be Kind Coco /@bekindcoco)

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