EVENT RECAP: Coffee and Jam #216

Speaker One: Cecilla Clavijo// Vita Bag

In NZ we use 1.6 billion plastic bags each year, we use them for a short period of time but they stay around for hundreds of years. They are a huge threat to our marine life, polluting our environment, blocking our drainpipes and working their way up our food supply chain. Today, as plastic bag waste is increasing, we need to think about what we need to do. Plastic bag bans are being introduced into more and more countries; it’s only a matter of time until it happens in NZ.

A simple solution to this increasing problem is to use reusable cloth bags whenever you go shopping. However, when you get to the fruit and vegetable section there seems to be no alternative to a disposable plastic bag.

This is how Vita Bag came to be- Cecilla has worked to develop a product to tackle this issue as part of as part of a Start-Up scholarship at UC.  Vita Bags are reusable cloth bags, they are 100% biodegradable and they are made from organic cotton, designed to last a couple of years. Your items will also be tightly secured with a draw string, keep your produce fresh and offer a great storage solution.

Vita bag aims to be present in all the grocery stores and supermarkets in Christchurch. They have recently been trialed with a number of people and the feedback has been really positive. Vita Bags is also in conversation with CCC for some possible funding to make this vision a reality.



Speaker Two: Alex McCall// Beanstalk

When you were between the ages of 12-18, how much time did you spend thinking about your future? Beanstalk wants to gamify the future career paths for young minds and really engage the youth in NZ. The reason for this is that 71% of millennials are disengaged in the workforce.

This is not good for us, the economy or people’s well-being. In 2025, 75% of people in our workforce will be millennials. This is a real problem, right now. There are lots of creative, awesome people out there with so many ideas and Beanstalk wants to enable them to take charge of their lives.

The intention of Beanstalk is to constantly evolve with the user- it grows with the youth. They have weekly engagement with the youth and they can keep growing on their journey, be it from Carpenter to travel blogger.

They have also done some market validation- 70% of young kids are disengaged in career planning. 80% of those get most of their career information from their parents who are not aware of the new and innovative jobs. 80% of students are also required to seek out information from more than one source- and Beanstalk aims to create a flow of information.

Beanstalk wants to use the data they gather from their students to enable corporate partners, such as universities, to grow and learn what the students are demanding. They can then also create courses geared towards what students want to learn and the businesses can then also understand what the children’s skills are. We then have an up cycling of education and a place where people want to learn.

The impact Beanstalk would like to have is to help 100,000 youth become more future focused within NZ.



Speaker Three: Fraser McConnell// Squawk Squad

In a country where 80% of our native birds are at serious risk, it looks like predators such as stoats, rats and possums are winning the battle. Traditional trapping only has one chance to trap these predators and needs to be checked regularly – requiring a vast amount of labour and manpower.

Squawk Squad is changing that with innovative technology that allows donors to track the progress of the traps they have contributed to placing in bird sanctuaries. They do this by funding self-resetting traps that stream live data to donors and headquarters via an app that lets you know when a trap you helped fund has removed a pesky predator.

Costing $360 per unit most people who would like to help simply don't have the financial means. By spreading this cost around up to twenty members of a 'squad', most people have a chance to contribute and make a real difference for our native birds. The goal is to eventually engage 100,000 New Zealanders placing 5000 or more traps, aiming to remove over 200,000 pests! This would certainly help the kiwi nation be well on its way to becoming the most environmentally friendly country in the world.

Starting a Kickstarter back in May, the group have raised over $70,000 and have been able to Beta test this idea in three different areas.



  1. Jessie from Empower Me Now can help you reprogram how you are automatically thinking and feeling to help you achieve the results you want. Whether it is for business success or improving well-being; your thinking is creating your results. Check out www.empowermenow.co.nz and FB.

  2. Validation Station is the event for you if you have a problem you want to solve or an idea for a business. It will be held on the 19th of July at the Space Academy. https://www.facebook.com/events/312251962549712/

  3. If you’re interested in the redzone, there is a Christchurch Conversation series coming up on July 20th at the Piano 6-7pm. The guest speaker is leading USA landscape architect Christina Hill from Brooklyn University who is coming over to talk about sea level rises. You can also watch the live steam on the Regenerate Christchurch FB page.

Coffee & Jam is Christchurch's longest running weekly meet up for entrepreneurially-minded people. It’s a great place to see ordinary people doing extraordinary things, meet people, learn and share in a creative space, hear about other events in Christchurch and indulge in a little bit of free coffee, jam and bread.

If you have an idea you'd like to pitch get in touch with Gina at gina@ministryofawesome.com.