Climate Matters: Reducing waste one bag at a time

Waste not: Armidale Boomerang Bag creators at their April working bee.
Waste not: Armidale Boomerang Bag creators at their April working bee.

Much of what we eat and drink comes in some kind of plastic packaging.

It is estimated one million, single use plastic bags are used worldwide every minute, amounting to a staggering 3.5 million tons of waste per year.

Recycling is once again in the spotlight with China recently deciding to no longer accept imports of mixed recyclables.

As the government continues to debate possible solutions, the problem mounts - literally! 

A local group of people have decided to tackle this problem at the source by forming the Armidale branch of Boomerang Bags.

Boomerang Bags is a global, grassroots, community action group.

It aims to reduce people’s reliance on single use plastic bags by sewing cloth shopping bags from recycled material.

These bags are then made available from participating shops in a “borrow and return” system that aims to encourage people to develop the habit of bringing their own bag when they shop.

The bags also become a platform for conversations that will hopefully see our society shift towards becoming more sustainable.

By getting involved, you are participating in a global movement, celebrating a grassroots initiative focusing on community building and sustainability.

Boomerang Bags was formed in 2013 by two women from Burleigh Heads who were concerned about plastic waste in the ocean.

The Armidale group, part of Sustainable Living Armidale’s Waste Group, now joins 610 Boomerang Bag communities around the globe.

Current estimates are that collectively these groups have sewn 199,603 re-usable bags diverting approximately 59,880kg of waste from landfill.

The bags sewn by the local group are already available to be borrowed and returned at The Food Shed and Monk’s Health Food shops in Armidale, or purchased at the Farmers’ Market.

Armidale Boomerang Bags is a group of children, women and men from a variety of backgrounds brought together by a mutual concern for the environment and, for many, a love of sewing.

You don’t need to be an expert on a sewing machine to be part of the group, there’s plenty to do, including cutting, ironing, screen-printing labels and sewing. Your help will be invaluable.

The group is always happy to accept donations of suitable material, and aims to have a working bee once a month.

For more information go to the Armidale Boomerang Bags facebook page, or you can contact Alison Lecke from Northern Inland Regional Waste at a.leckie@nirw.org.au