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A good home for unwanted conference bags

Gwen Covey-Crump finds a way to address conference waste

Gwen Covey-Crump
29 March 2018, at 11:21am

I have long been concerned about the waste we generate attending conferences. Frequently the delegate packs include a bag, usually made of a plastic-based material that will not biodegrade. Many veterinarians and veterinary nurses put these to good use until they are worn out but, more often than not they just get added to the pile of conference bags gathering dust in a corner somewhere.

David Ritchie, former editor of Veterinary Practice magazine, was in possession of hundreds of unused, sponsored bags from VetsSouth and VetsNorth conferences. I had heard of a number of charities involved in healthcare and education projects in developing countries and made contact with Inter Carethrough a partner organisation, Malawi Association for Christian Support. On 19 February, the bags were handed over to be packed into a shipping container destined for Africa.

Richard Davies of the Malawi Association for Christian Support handed the donated rucksacks to Inter Care
Richard Davies of the Malawi Association for Christian Support handed the donated rucksacks to Inter Care

Charlotte Wright, Fundraising Officer for Inter Care, commented:

“Inter Care sends targeted medical aid to over 100 rural health units in some of the poorest parts of Africa. The health units we support serve a catchment population of over 10 million and include clinics, hospitals, dispensaries and centres for orphaned and vulnerable children in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia. The medical aid Inter Care sends to its partner health units consists of medicines and healthcare goods that are donated to us from a range of pharmaceutical companies, medical manufacturers and health professionals. We also purchase some medicines at cost price which we cannot source from donations but which are desperately needed by our partners.

“On 19 February 2018, David Ritchie generously donated 400 rucksacks. These rucksacks will be used as part of a new project for our partner health units. The majority of our partners hold outreach clinics for neighbouring villages without health care facilities. We anticipate that these rucksacks are ideally suited to hold basic healthcare goods required for these clinics. These rucksacks could include items such as gloves, dressings, bandages, plasters, paracetamol, antibiotics, and antihistamines. We will be contacting the most suitable health units to confirm their requirements.

“We are very excited by this new project and it is due to supporters such as David Ritchie that this venture is possible.”

It is heart-warming to find a small solution to our ever-growing problem of waste, I would encourage other vets to donate their unwanted conference bags to one of these well organised charities.

Find out more about the work of Inter Care by visiting their website. Another charity keen to receive unwanted conference bags is The Backpack Project, Mary’s Meals.