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Bonding over bags


Carterton people have banded together to make shopping greener in their town.

A group of about 100 residents have made more than 1300 reusable bags in the few months they have been on board the Boomerang Bag bandwagon, a concept which hopes to reduce the use of plastic bags in supermarkets.

Lucia Zanmonti said the project had involved people from all ages and backgrounds.

“We have a range of people from really old people who have great skills and lots of time who make up to 100 a week to people who make three in six months.”

People of all ages are involved with making the fabric kits during working bees at South End School. PHOTO/LUCIA ZANMONTI
People of all ages are involved with making the fabric kits during working bees at South End School. PHOTO/LUCIA ZANMONTI

The group meets once each month at the South End School to make up fabric kits which are then distributed to residents to sew up, creating the final product.

“We use recycled fabrics, and in that way the benefits are two-fold: not using plastic, but also, using something that would otherwise end up in landfill.

“People are trying to reduce their waste, but we need to create awareness and have community action.

“This is not something that can’t be done from above.

“It has to be from the ground up.”

Odette Rowe, also heavily involved with the Carterton project said the whole concept of Boomerang Bags was to give people a green option when shopping if they didn’t have their own reusable bag on them.

They would later return the bag for someone else to use.

There are other groups around Wairarapa introducing Boomerang Bags to their communities.

“Every community finds their own formula which works best for them,” she said.

“The whole thing is to try to educate people to not use plastic bags – to remember to have their bags on them. “But we’re all human and sometimes we forget.”

Odette said when they first introduced the bags to New World in Carterton, “some people were really positive and excited, and other people were adamant that they really liked plastic bags for lining their rubbish bins and for picking up dog poo”.

“So, we talked about how you can line your rubbish bin with newspaper, and how you need to use special council poo bags for your dogs that break down.

“It felt like we managed to let people know their alternatives to plastic bags.”

The project had also benefitted those behind the scenes, she said.

“It’s a great project for people who are in a transitioning season in their lives to get involved and create these bags and meet new people and socialise.”

Carterton’s “Bought to Support” bags. PHOTO/LUCIA ZANMONTI
Carterton’s “Bought to Support” bags. PHOTO/LUCIA ZANMONTI

Along with Boomerang Bags, the Carterton team are set to launch “Bought to Support” bags – ones that people can buy and keep.

“We have found some people are really emotionally attached to their bags.

“We’ve started making them already and we promote them on our website, and have had a day at the supermarket promoting them.

“They are beautiful fabrics and much sturdier too.”

The Carterton Boomerang Bags are distributed exclusively at New World, but Odette hopes to “roll out to other places”.

“I think one day we’ll reach critical mass where we won’t need any more plastic bags.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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