My work has been published in The Age, The Herald-Sun, The Australian, The Big Issue, Australian Birdlife, The Bark (USA), Eureka Street, Overland and The Australian Jewish News.
Published June 28th 2020
Sew, sew good for the planet
The statistics are mind-boggling: since 2014, half a million bags have been made by over a thousand groups worldwide. In an initiative that unites people and tackles plastic pollution, these humble bags have stopped almost 200,000 kilograms of cloth waste from going into landfill.
Boomerang Bags is a grass-roots movement that makes bags from discarded fabric, addressing plastic pollution with singular creativity and verve. It began on the Gold Coast in 2014 when friends Tania Potts and Jordyn de Boer grew alarmed about the proliferation of plastics in the environment, especially discarded shopping bags. Resolving to take action, they set up the first local group.
The idea took off and groups flourished. In Australia, bag-makers now meet in community centres, church halls, neighbourhood houses, libraries and homes – anywhere with space to cut fabric, screenprint pockets, set up sewing machines and create the funky bags.
Originally, bags were given away with a box provided to return them for reuse, hence the name 'boomerang'. They're now given away or sold cheaply at farmers' markets, local businesses and via a myriad of venues, such as school fetes, car-boot sales and corporate events.
Long before the 'Big Two' supermarkets banned some single-use plastic bags in 2018, Boomerang Bags communities were hard at work, using reclaimed sheets, pillow slips, curtains and flags to make sturdy and reuseable bags.
The movement is not just wildly successful at producing bags. Its aims ('Connection. Conversations. Community') have been flourishing, too.
Some Boomerang Bag community stories are heart-warming tales of transformation, like the Phillip Island/San Remo group that sends bag kits to Vanuatu, where they're sewn by local women and sold to cruise ship passengers. The revenue raised is helping fund a local sewing centre.
Right now during Covid-19, many groups are making non-medical fabric face masks for nursing homes, clinics, hospitals and homeless shelters.
Key messages haven't been lost in quarantine. Conversations and community spirit continue, via groups on Facebook or Zoom.
Whether in Belgium, Canada, Spain, the US, the Northern Territory or 995 other countries and districts, Boomerang Bags is a flourishing solution to the problem of plastic pollution.
Go to the website for information about joining an existing group or starting a new one.
Debbie Phillip Island & San Remo BB are a fantastic group of women, supporting each other and the community in these difficult times and recent events, they support the bushfire relief by sewing wildlife pouches for care of injured animals. And support our local community centre sewing bags for our emergency food relief program.