Banner-to-bag business: teachable moments

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Enterprising business students at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Surrey, B.C., Canada, learned how to organize the people and partnerships necessary for success when they developed a project to teach high-school students about sustainability and the economic value of reusable wastes. The Banner Bag project “is about keeping banners out of the landfill,” says SFU student Kristen Ryan of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a global network of student entrepreneurs. The SFU SIFE team decided to convert discarded street banners into reusable shopping bags.

The SIFE team collected banners discarded after festivals, concerts and ad campaigns by forming partnerships with the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association (a banner user), the Bank of Montreal and the Big Bold Beautiful Banner Company in Surrey, a banner manufacturer and installer. The university students deliver the used banners and a workshop on sustainability to high-school groups. The high-school students sew the mostly nylon banners into multi-purpose bags, keeping valuable materials out of landfills and greenhouse gases out of the air.

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