The bag that comes back

The Riverine Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By Kenji Sato

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 is 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 leader 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.

Photo: LUKE HEMER

Photo: LUKE HEMER

PICK A BAG: St Mary's stu­dents Mitch Barn­sta­ble, Jorja Oliver, Hud­son Con­nelly, Raina Fim­mel and Lo­gan Orr screen print with Sam Fer­rier.

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