Ideas to stem the use of plastic going into our oceans and landfill, have ranged from high tech, scientific gizmos, to all manner of experimental ideas.
However, it seems that grandma knew best.
Remember when we went shopping and came home with groceries neatly stacked in a box? When the butcher wrapped our meat in those big white sheets of butcher’s paper (which were purloined for school classes and art projects at home?) And Nana headed into town with a shopping basket over her arm?
Well, it’s back to the good old days. It’s taken a lady on the Gold Coast, with a friend, to start a small project four years ago, that’s now ballooned into a massive national and international project, to help save the animals and the environment. Co-founder Tania Potts started the simple idea of rejuvenating the idea of replacing plastic shopping bags with recycled cloth bags.
And so was born Boomerang Bags.
There are several groups throughout our area. Wingham Boomerang Bags was started by Meaghan Lewers from Bobin. Every four or six weeks, half a dozen or so friends come to her house to sew Boomerang Bags.
‘I heard about it and thought it a great idea. I started looking at the spare bits of fabric I had and, when I asked around for material scraps, I was inundated. So, we use the donated fabric, and we contacted Boomerang Bags through the internet, and sourced a printer to do the logo for the bags.
There’s a Re-use and Return Bag, and a new one, Bought To Support.
‘You can buy a bag as a Bought to Support Bag with a small donation, or take a bag from the shop home, and return it, or re-use it during your next visit to the shop. It seems to work best for shops that you visit regularly, like buying weekly fruit and vegies, Grantys at Wingham are very supportive.’
The modest donations are ploughed back into material, thread, and screen printing.
But, no doubt, an added appeal is the social connection of getting together with friends and neighbours.
‘We meet once every four to six weeks, and get our production line going, so we make maybe two dozen bags in the day.’
Any extra money raised, apart from buying supplies like thread, or doing the screen printed pockets, is donated to groups like Landcare, or Clean Up Australia, or projects to beautify and care for their neighbourhoods.
Meaghan grows vegetables and fruit on her fifty acres at Bobin, and runs a stall at the Wingham Markets, where she provides the Boomerang Bags which eventually find their way back to her.
Says Meaghan, ‘We really need the State Government to bite the bullet, and to step up and say ‘we’re banning plastic bags,’ end of story. You hardly see them in some parts of Europe any more.’
Boomerang Bag groups are springing up everywhere, as grandmothers teach children how to sew, and a few men are joining in as well.
‘It doesn’t work for the supermarkets yet but, hopefully, the message is getting out there,’ said Meaghan. ‘People want to feel that they can do their bit to help save our planet.’
Between Wingham and Meaghan’s property in Bobin, there are signs on properties declaring them ‘Gas Free’.
‘It was a local plan to support Gloucester and protect our area, as the Manning will be affected if they start fracking and mining up there. Our water supply will be affected, and the Manning has a valuable clean green image, so why mess with that? Gloucester and other small towns prove that people-power works, and you have to be on the government’s back, watch what they’re doing all the time. It seems that politics have to be done by the communities, we have to keep check on our government and be vigilant,’ said Meaghan.
It might seem to be a small step in preventing the thousands of bags a minute that we dump but, as someone once said, “What goes around, comes around.” Like a boomerang.
To start your own Boomerang Bag group, Google Boomerang Bags in your area, or original home website.