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ASEF Green Action

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
16 April - 5 November 2013 Education Department ASEF Summer University Sustainable Development

Various ASEM countries

ASEF Green Action aims to raise awareness on the harmful effects of plastic on the environment. The initiative includes a variety of activities, such as public launches, bag exchanges and workshops, coordinated by selected 18th ASEF University (AU18) participants. During bag exchanges, passers-by are invited to swap their plastic bag for a sustainable one and encouraged to use the latter instead in the future. The collected materials will be creatively reused to promote further green awareness.

ASEF Green Action activities
Below, you may find an overview of the ASEF Green Action activities hosted in various Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) countries:
- 16 to 27 April 2013: School visits, bag exchange and recycling workshop. 8 June 2013: recycling workshop in the park of Tres Cantos - Madrid, Spain
- 17 April 2013: Launch in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. Bag exchange on 22 May 2013
- 25 May 2013: Bag exchange in Rotterdam, the Netherlands
- 2 June 2013: Various activities at Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok, Thailand
- 3 June 2013: Bag exchange at the Primary School nr 10 in Warsaw, Poland
- 27 July 2013: Bag exchange at the Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok, Hong Kong SAR, China
- 17 Aug 2013: Launch in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro Province. 20 Aug-Oct 2013: various awareness activities in Quezon Province
- 28 Oct to 1 Nov 2013: During the 11th ASEF Classroom Network Conference, teachers' initiatives in creating environmental awareness in their schools in various countries were exhibited. Additionaly, a bag exchange took place on 30 October at Pasar Badung in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

AU18 facilitated a dialogue between young Asians and Europeans and residents and visitors of Tartu, Estonia – on the theme “Conscious Consumers for Environmental Sustainability”. The participants implemented eight street actions to promote sustainable consumption, among which was a Bag Exchange organised by Laurens Bistervels (The Netherlands), Alvin Chia (Singapore), Karin Torim (Estonia), Pimwipa Vatanutanon (Thailand), Karolina Mazetyte (Lithuania) and Julia Olszewska (Poland). The last two together with Kina Markova (Bulgaria), Candy Tsang (China), Nursalwa Baharuddin (Malaysia), Kim Sony Mendoza (the Philippines) and Nathalie Sajda (Sweden) coordinate the abovementioned activities. 

Read more about the ASEF University programme here. For more information, please follow our Facebook group or contact Rob van Leeuwen.

AGA_Spain      AGA_Thailand      AGA_NL

Project Updates

  • ASEF Green Action concluded in Bali on its 8th and last stop for the year 2013, engaging 90 secondary and high school teachers from 30 ASEM countries present for the 11th ASEF Classroom Network (ClassNet) Conference.

    ASEF Green Action participants, supported by students from MAN Tambakberas Jombang, engaged passers-by at Pasar Badung in Denpasar to swap their plastic bags for a durable one for future use. During the activity, co-organised with the Balinese NGO Tas Pasar, more than 1,000 bags were exchanged. The collected plastics were then tied together forming a long chain which was carried around the market to create further awareness, before it was given to a local organisation that will make wallets, bags, notebooks, make up cases, pencil cases, etc. out of it.

    As part of the ASEF Green Action, an exhibition open to the public was also set up, where 21 schools from 18 ASEM countries presented their initiatives in creating environmental awareness in their schools.

    The 8th edition of ASEF Green Action took place during the 11th ASEF ClassNet Conference, which was convened from 29 October to 1 November 2013 on “Creative Classrooms Go 4G: Teach Green, Learn Green, Act Green, Live Green”. The participants exchanged views and best practices on environmental education and proposed new ICT projects to be implemented in 2014. 

  • Around 650 Filipino youth attended the ASEF Green Action launch event on 17 August 2013 in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines. The programme included presentations by Mr Rob VAN LEEUWEN, ASEF’s Project Officer in charge of the initiative, and Mr Kim Sony MENDOZA, coordinator of the ASEF Green Action’s Philippines chapter. Their presentations inspired the participants to promote the use of more durable bags instead of plastic bags.

    The event was co-organised by ASEF, the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) Provincial Federation (SKPF) and the Quezon Provincial Youth Parliament (PYP). The initiative will be followed up by SK coordinators engaging their local communities in the Province of Quezon through several awareness activities. Participants will convene in September in Lucena City to make use of the collected plastic bags in a creative way.

  • During the interactive activity ‘BAG BACK’, held on 27 July 2013 in Hong Kong SAR, more than 40 young volunteers exchanged plastic bags for sustainable reusable bags. This activity is part of the ASEF Green Action.

    A survey among 140 passers-by, engaged in the activity, shows that more than 75% of them committed to bringing the durable bag “often” or “sometimes”. All participants who received one of the 500 limited cloth bags are invited to take photographs of various items they have carried in their new bags. They can then share these photos for the online competition “What’s in your bag?” until the end of September on the Joint College Environmental Innovation Alliance’s Facebook page. The entry with the most ‘Likes’ will win a personalised guided tour to Hong Kong’s natural conservation park.

    The collected plastic materials will be used for a collaborative art exhibition by local Hong Kong design students and artists towards the end of 2013.

  • European youth rethink plastic

    Published on 01 Jul 2013

    The Netherlands

    In the hustle and bustle of the Saturday shopping frenzy, representatives from ASEF, Zero Plastic Week and the Environment Centre Rotterdam, exchanged more than 500 plastic bags for reusable cotton ones. “Many passers-by became quite intrigued in the negative effects of disposable plastic bags. Some even invited friends and family to also exchange their plastic bags”, says Ms Kina MARKOVA, coordinator of the activity.

    While using a reusable plastic bag is a first step in becoming more environmentally conscious, the passers-by were also encouraged by Zero Plastic Week to abstain from buying any new plastic item for one week. The bags collected during the Dutch chapter of ASEF Green Action will be donated to a local artist who will create various items such as more sustainable bags or accessories.


    After the school visits and bag exchanges organised in April 2013, youth in Tres Cantos – Madrid, Spain actively participated in a recycling workshop on making jewelleries out of used bottle caps and magazine pictures. Ms Fátima Mera ALCELDE, City Councellor of Youth, Family and Children in Tres Cantos, described the success of the workshop as follows: “From all the workshops which took place on Saturday, the participation in the recycling workshop was the highest.” The participating youth shared that a creative, innovative and entertaining activity such as this one is the best way to inform people about the impact of plastic and garbage to our bodies and the environment.

    ASEF Green Action Flickr album

  • Asian youth go plastic-free

    Published on 01 Jul 2013

    Brunei Darussalam

    Further to the launch of ASEF Green Action on 17 April 2013 in Brunei Darussalam, a group of 11 students organised a bag exchange in Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of Brunei. In just two hours, about 200 customers were encouraged to use a durable bag instead of the plastic bags they received in the shop. The collected plastic bags will now be used to make a Giant Earth Ball which will be exhibited in August 2013 at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam Convocation.


    In Bangkok, Thailand 45 young Thai people spoke up to the massive plastic consumption at the Chatuchak Market. During the Bag4Bag Action, co-organised with the Thai social enterprise a-chieve, more than 400 passers-by’s plastic bags were swapped for ecological bags. The materials were then tied together into a 200 meter long ‘plastic snake’, which was carried in a long line through the market. The participating youth were impressed by how easy one can partake in environmental awareness campaigns and how strong visually attractive messages can be.

    Stay tuned for more ASEF Green Action activities to take place in Tres Cantos, Spain, Hong Kong SAR, China, and Lucena City, the Philippines here.

    ASEF Green Action Flickr album

  • The Polish chapter of ASEF Green Action took place at the Primary School nr 10 in Warsaw. Some 300 pupils participated in environmental awareness activities on the effects of plastic. During the action day, the students were invited to swap ten plastic bags for an eco-friendly one. Prior to the action, the students had attended a class related to the theme for a better understanding of the action’s aim and objectives.

    Julia OLSZEWSKA, coordinator of ASEF Green Action in Poland and participant of the 18th ASEF University (AU18): “When I headed to the school with over 300 canvas bags some doubts ran through my head. A few days earlier, the principal wrote me that she was not sure if the children would remember to bring the plastic bags as the exchange was scheduled on a Monday after a long weekend break.

    Upon arrival, two students, Maks and Bartek, volunteered to help out with the exchange. Their positive attitude and engagement lifted my spirits. The bell rang and I hear... ‘I have 23 bags’, ‘I brought 70’! A long queue of girls and boys was formed in front of us. Maks and Bartek were coordinating the counting and exchanging of the bags. Slowly the cardboard box, where the plastic bags were put, began to fill up. A new and larger one was necessary to keep all the bags.

    The youngest children were the most enthusiastic and exchanged the largest number of bags. The following note was a touching moment: ‘Szymon could not come today. Here are his 23 bags’. There is also room for improvement as a few children brought brand new, unused plastic bags straight from the shop.

    After two hours, four 120 liter bags filled with plastic bags were collected! In October 2013, an "upcycling" workshop will be organised at the school. The pupils will then be encouraged to join in this activity for more environmental awareness.”

  • Spain goes green with ASEF Green Action

    Published on 03 Jun 2013

    Various ASEF Green Action activities were organised, 16-27 April 2013 in Tres Cantos – Madrid, Spain. These activities included school visits, bag exchanges and a creative workshop that raised awareness on the impact of plastic bags on the environment. 

    During the first week, an information booth was set up in secondary schools to engage students in a dialogue on how they can choose better options than plastic to protect the environment. On 27 April, an ‘Alternative Night' was organised in the sport centre Miguel de Cervantes, where passers-by were invited to swap their plastic bag(s) for a sustainable one. Interested public were also invited to join in a quiz on recycling and participate in a handicraft workshop.

    Coinciding with the World Environment Day 2013 on 5 June, several awareness raising activities will be organised in the first week of June, among which an information day at the library and a recycling workshop in the Central Park in Tres Cantos.

    ASEF co-organises this chapter of its Green Action initiative with Ms Karolina MAZETYTE, 18th ASEF University participant from Lithuania and currently a European Voluntary Service (EVS) volunteer in Spain, and the Youth Centre of Tres Cantos.

  • ASEF Green Action initiative continues in Rotterdam, Bangkok and Hong Kong SAR, since its launch in Brunei Darussalam on 17 April 2013.

    Rotterdam chapter

    On Saturday, 25 May 2013, Rotterdam (the Netherlands) will raise awareness on the harmful impact of excessive use of plastic on the environment.  Ms Kina MARKOVA (18th ASEF University participant) will closely work with ASEF, Zero Plastic Week, a non-formal initiative, and the Environment Centre Rotterdam, to exchange bags in the shopping area located at the Beurstraverse/Hoogstraat. Zero Plastic Week was started in 2012 by a group of six volunteers in the Netherlands, which will later invite consumers to abstain from buying any plastic items for one week.

    Bangkok chapter

    Bangkok (Thailand), which consumes 600,000 plastic bags every day, will be our next destination to promote the use of sustainable bags. ASEF will cooperate with Ms Nathalie SAJDA (18th ASEF University participant) and a-chieve, a Thai social enterprise, to run a campaign on sustainable consumption behaviour. The campaign will primarily engage the youth to learn and practice sustainable consumption.

    On Sunday, 2 June 2013, around 100 Thai young people will invite passers-by at the Chatuchak Weekend Market in central Bangkok to swap their plastic bags for sustainable ones.

    Hong Kong chapter

    On Saturday, 8 June 2013, the ASEF Green Action in Hong Kong SAR, China, will take place at the Ladies Market in the Mongkok district. Co-organised by ASEF, Ms Candy TSANG (18th ASEF University participant) and the Joint-College Environmental Innovation Alliance, pedestrians in one of the busiest shopping districts in Hong Kong will be invited to use more sustainable bags instead of plastic ones.

    The collected plastics will be creatively reused by a group of Hong Kong artists. They will use the plastic to make an artwork related to a local Chinese festival in September. This artwork will be showcased at various colleges and universities in Hong Kong to further raise awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic waste.

    [Upd] The ASEF Green Action initiative in Hong Kong SAR, China, will be rescheduled to Saturday, 27 July.

  • ASEF Green Action in Brunei Darussalam

    Published on 05 May 2013

    On Wednesday, 17 April 2013, more than a hundred students and people from different walks of life, gathered at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) to kick off the ASEF Green Action initiative in Brunei Darussalam. Attendees exchanged around 700 plastic bags for 160 sustainable bags, of which limited numbers were autographed by Wu Chun, international singer, actor and Managing Director of Fitness Zone.

    The Bruneian chapter of the ASEF Green Action initiative was officially launched by the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom for Brunei Darussalam, Mr Rob FENN. Ms Nursalwa BAHARUDDIN, participant of the 18th ASEF University (AU18) and co-ordinator of ASEF Green Action initiative in Brunei Darussalam, addressed the audience in her welcome speech saying “today’s programme is a multiplier of the AU18 awareness campaign on sustainable consumption. While many activities like beach clean-ups have been carried out, we should also try to reduce our use of plastic bags”.

    Mr Rob VAN LEEUWEN, ASEF’s Project Officer from People-to-People Exchange, participated in this launch event. He highlighted, “ASEF Green Action aims to raise awareness on the harmful effects of plastic on the environment. Through this Action we are trying to bring in active involvement of young people that will take place in seven Asia-Europe countries”.

    On Wednesday, 22 May, more bag exchanges will be organised from 7 pm to 10 pm at First Emporium & Supermarket in Bandar Seri Begawan. All materials collected in April and May will be used to create a Giant Earth Ball that will be exhibited at the UBD Convocation in August 2013.


  • a-chieve
  • Casa de la Juventud Tres Cantos
  • Creative Academy of Narrative & Dramatic Arts and Sciences
  • Green Brunei
  • Joint College Environmental Innovation Alliance (JCEIA)
  • Sangguniang Kabataan Provincial Federation in Quezon Province
  • Szkoła Podstawowa Nr 10 im. Grzegorza Piramowicza
  • Tas Pasar
  • UBD Volunteering and Charity Club
  • Universiti Brunei Darussalam


  • Environment Centre Rotterdam
  • Fitness Zone Health Club
  • Quezon Provincial Youth Parliament
  • Thai Volunteer Service
  • The Sync
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