Boomerang Bags is a community-driven initiative tackling plastic pollution at the grassroots. It kicked off in Australia in 2013 and has spread to communities throughout the world.
The idea behind it is to reduce the use of plastic bags by using recycled materials instead, and engaging local communities to get involved in making bags that are free, fun and sustainable.
“It’s stopping the use of plastic bags but also recycling unwanted material, clothing and linen and turning an item of no excitement into something beautiful and creative for all to see and use,” said Megan Troup, one of the women driving the Waihi Beach initiative.
Once made, the bags go to local shops to use on a ‘borrow and bring back’ basis as an alternative to plastic bags.
The venture relies on donations of suitable fabrics and thread and, of course, volunteers to donate their time and sewing machines.
People just pitch up at our tennis club on Monday mornings and cut, sew, iron and create these reusable shopping bags. Currently 90% of our retailers are on board.
“I cut up my husband’s old jeans last week to use on the bags. There were a few rips, holes and buttons missing but the majority of the actual material was still in great shape so I cut them up and now they will still travel many miles … just with a different set of legs.”
The new recyclable bags are created and placed in the community at different spots or, ideally, all stores. A customer comes along, makes their purchase, and uses a bag to take their goods home, then returns it for the next person to use. Like a boomerang, the bag goes out and comes back.
Much of what we eat, drink or use comes packaged in plastic – a material made from petroleum which will last forever – and is usually only used once before being thrown into landfill. Shopping bags, disposable cups (even paper ones are lined with polyethylene plastic) and lids, drinking straws and water bottles are the big four single-use plastics.
Images Cassandra Walker, Cassabella Photography