It's in the bag: but not plastic

September 13, 2017

Sam Ferrier with boomerang bags. Photo by Luke Hemer.

INTRODUCING the Boomerang Bag: the bag that always comes back.

Children from St Mary’s Primary School are turning old materials into reusable Boomerang Bags as part of a school-wide project to reduce plastic bag waste.

The bags will be made entirely of recycled pillow slips, nappies and linen the students bring from home.

At the end of the project the school will have made 605 bags — one for each of its 50 teachers and 555 students.

Parent and volunteer Terrina Phelan said every student was getting involved, even the ones not able to operate the sewing machines.

“Not everyone can make a bag, but they’ve all contributed in some way. Some are going to cut painting sheets, some are going around to the classrooms and collecting pillow slips,” she said.

“I love coming to pick up my daughter and seeing them running around with baskets filled with pillow slips. The kids are so excited.”

The Boomerang Bag project is part of Plastic Bag Free Echuca/Moama, a local initiative to eliminate single-use plastic bags in the twin towns.

Samantha Ferrier, who started the project, said she was “deeply embarrassed” by the fact NSW and Victoria were the only states in Australia that did not yet have a plastic bag ban.

“Tasmania, South Australia, Northern Territory, and Western Australia have all banned them, and Queensland will ban them next year. It’s just NSW and Victoria that are lagging behind,” she said.

Samantha said NSW and Victoria were even lagging behind Kenya, which banned single-use plastic bags in August.

But Samantha said she was optimistic because she had received a strong response from the local community.

“Victoria is one of the most active states in Australia in terms of community grassroots initiatives. That could be in response to the lack of political leadership,” she said.

Samantha has been teaching the children at St Mary’s about the harm plastic bags can cause when they end up in rivers and waterways and she said the children responded enthusiastically to the challenge.

“I think the kids got a lot out of it. Hopefully it will inspire them to think about our plastic consumption as a society and what we can do about it.”

“Boomerang Bags are a really hands on, practical solution so they can feel like they’re doing something. Encouraging people to use the bag can have a big impact on how much plastic enters the environment.”

Year 6 student Mary Green was so concerned about what she learnt she had volunteered to be a school sustainability leader.

“We watched these videos about how there’s so much rubbish affecting the world and how it’s never going to go away because it’s plastic,” she said.

“We saw how plastic bags really affect the environment so we decided to make Boomerang Bags.”

Sustainability eader Khloe Hall, who is also in Year 6, said she volunteered because of her love for animals.

“We’re trying to stop the plastic bag because it goes into the river and the ocean and kills all the wildlife,” she said.

“The school really cares about nature and the environment.”

The school will be holding a Boomerang Bag sewing bee on September 19, from 9am to 3.15pm, and they are asking members of the public to come in and lend a hand.

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