SUSTAINABLE CAUSE: Boomerang Bags Maryborough member and Maryborough State High School art teacher Sharyn Honey has recruited a dedicated team of high school students (from back left) Loganne Forbes, Jordyn Kelly, Channing Hancock, Maddison-Rose Ryan and Hayley Bryson to help make reusable fabric bags from materials that would normally end up in landfill.
SUSTAINABLE CAUSE: Boomerang Bags Maryborough member and Maryborough State High School art teacher Sharyn Honey has recruited a dedicated team of high school students (from back left) Loganne Forbes, Jordyn Kelly, Channing Hancock, Maddison-Rose Ryan and Hayley Bryson to help make reusable fabric bags from materials that would normally end up in landfill. Boni Holmes

Group bagging a better option

SHARYN Honey is passionate about the environment and has bagged an initiative to help reduce our carbon footprint on the planet.

She found a Facebook post that tweaked her interest and went to the first meeting of Boomerang Bags Maryborough, organised by Kel Mott of Creative Co-Op.

Boomerang Bags is an international movement that started in Burleigh Heads by co-founders Tania Potts and Jordyn Boer in 2013.

"The movement's main reason for being was that every single piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists on the Earth," Ms Honey said.

"It is starting to really be evident that it is becoming a huge environmental problem."

Boomerang Bags in Maryborough began last year in September when Ms Mott advertised for volunteers in tackling the plastic overuse that makes its way into the environment.

The Maryborough State High School art teacher said there was only a handful of people getting together and she was also now the Facebook admin.

She has managed to get her mum to do some sewing, a teacher aide at the school to make some bags, ask other staff members for donations, create and design screen prints and involve the students.

The handmade bags have been donated to Lifeline and the Food Basket.

volunteers tackling the plastic pollution: Students spend their lunch hour make Boomerang Bags
volunteers tackling the plastic pollution: Students spend their lunch hour make Boomerang Bags

"Last year I had a group of senior students and we would go into the sewing room and once a week do some sewing with recycled pillowcases," Ms Honey said.

"Of course they graduated at the end of last year. So this year I had a Year 7 humanities class and the first unit was 'water in the world' - this was the perfect opportunity to see if I could get some kids interested at that young level to be involved.

"Instead of sewing - I will teach them to sew as well - I decided to go on the route of no-sew bags.

"We use t-shirts or singlets, which we cut off and tie at the bottom.

"The kids are now developing their own skill sets where they're doing some ironing, print-making and pinning of labels."

The passionate Boomerang Bags advocate said she had a dedicated team of student volunteers.

"I have got a good half-a-dozen who come every Monday," she said.

"They are really keen and enjoy it. They feel it is empowering them to do something towards the environment and even though it is only a small portion they know where these things are going.

"Bringing it in to be a community project, extracurricular for the students is really great for them."

Ms Honey said recycling the fabrics was keeping them out of landfill.

"These days clothes aren't made to last and they are mostly made from man-made materials that don't break down and degrade.

"There is tonnes and tonnes of clothes that end up in landfill.

"By using those we are keeping it out of landfill for a bit longer," she said.

Ms Honey doesn't leave home without her backpack full of fabric and reusable bags and felt guilty the one time she did.

"I have got into the habit of taking extra bags when I go out - it is an extra thing I have to remember before I leave home," she said.

"I do carry a fabric bag in my handbag, just in case I need something small like milk and bread.

"I have the supermarket bags still and I will continue to use them until I can't any more."

A single-use plastic bag ban will be introduced in Queensland on July 1.

Ms Honey said the supermarkets would still supply a heavier plastic bag for purchase but it wouldn't combat the problem.

"It's not just the plastic at the end of the cycle that ends up in tiny, tiny particles that you can't even see, then the fish eat it and you eat the fish and then it is probably in you yourself," she said.

"There is also the amount of resources used to make the plastics, especially water and the emissions into the atmosphere is all affecting the hole in the ozone layer and our carbon footprint on the planet.

"Just this week two species have been declared extinct. What are we doing? We need to stop and think what we are doing to this planet."

 

Some of the vege bags made with curtains created by the members of Boomerang Bags Maryborough to use instead of single use plastic bags.
Some of the vegie bags made with curtains created by the members of Boomerang Bags Maryborough to use instead of single-use plastic bags. contributed

Ms Honey hopes the community will change their mindset and take along their own bags when shopping.

"I went to the markets with a bag full of bags and hung around the vegie stalls and I would pick people who had plastic bags in their hands and say, 'I noticed you haven't brought your own bag today, would you like one?' and I was handing them out.

"I have been handing them out for free but eventually we will have some for sale to try and cover some of the costs.

"It is not the time and electricity, it's the cost of the equipment we use - printing ink, sewing machine needles and cotton and those sorts of things.

"I would love to get an ironing press."

Ms Honey said the group consisted of volunteers who also had jobs, received no funding and were hoping the public would get on board.

They were looking for volunteers to sew, screen-print and help make the bags or donate.

Donations of fabrics, clothing such as t-shirts and singlets, curtains, doona covers, fabric place mats, pillowcases and tablecloths would be appreciated.

People who are interested in making the bags and need a drop-off point can come to the monthly meets or visit Boomerang Bags Maryborough on Facebook.

"You might be one person doing something in your area but it's also a benefit to the whole world," Ms Honey said.

DETAILS

Boomerang Bags Maryborough meets the second Saturday of each month at the Ross Funerals, Maryborough chapel hall on Russell St from 10am-1pm.