Global Action Plan’s Youth Panel represents the voice of young, sustainably-minded people in the charity’s activities. Each year the Panel run an environmental campaign around issues where youth action can make a real difference.

The Youth Panel’s first campaign, Long Live the Lunchbox is shining a light on the issue of single-use plastic waste at lunch and promoting restaurants that encourage their patrons to bring lunchbox containers to fill with food. A new interactive map has been launched so eco-conscious consumers can easily locate their local participating food outlets.

The Youth Panel is made up of ten 18-30 year olds with different environmental interests and experience, but all driven to take action that’s good for people and good for the planet.

To facilitate their campaigns, the Global Action Plan (GAP) team runs monthly meetings where Youth Panel members can get together and discuss their ideas. For the start of the campaign, we gave these meetings a strong structure, to make sure the Panel covered all the core elements of a campaign – from key messages to measurement.  Over time, as the campaign took shape, we relaxed this structure, and the Youth Panel were able to use their time for whatever they felt was most important.

Similarly, we asked the Youth Panel to submit their first week of content ahead of time. Once we knew they had a tone that fit with the charity as a whole, we relaxed the review process.

Long Live the Lunchbox has made a fantastic impact for the charity. The campaign is focused on Instagram, where we’ve seen a 60% increase in followers and follower engagement rates have exceeded 3.5%. The business outreach has also been great for the charity – the campaign has signed up around 130 businesses to the scheme, many of them independent business owners who can now be engaged in other aspects of our work. It’s also attracted larger chain organisations to talk to us about launching project work, and member organisations such as the Sustainable Restaurant Association, who provide great insights and access to further business.

The campaign is successfully cutting single-use plastic. Indeed, even if only 5% of visitors to the cafes that have signed up to Long Live the Lunchbox bring their own container, 18.5 tonnes of single use plastic could be saved in just one year.

We’ve found the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of the Youth Panel inspiring. We’ve seen a growing confidence in their own ideas, and an understanding that their actions have a tangible impact.