Bag ban sparks sewing bee

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - CHLOE RANFORD

A Blen­heim op shop has been get­ting its sew on in prepa­ra­tion for Countdown Red­wood­town’s ban on sin­gle-use plas­tic bags.

The Hospice Shop vol­un­teers have been busy craft­ing re­us­able bags out of re­cy­cled fab­ric for shop­pers on the look­out for a cheap, durable shop­ping bag.

Hospice Shop man­ager Chris­tine Law said vol­un­teers came up with the idea at the end of last year af­ter read­ing about the ban in the pa­per.

‘‘We started in or­der to give the su­per­mar­ket a nod and say, ‘Hey look, we’re sup­port­ing you,’ ‘‘ Law said.

‘‘We knew plas­tic bags were com­ing to an end and we try re­ally hard to re­cy­cle, reuse and re­duce our waste.’’

The group then ‘‘vol­un­teered their time, their power and their cot­ton’’ to sew to­gether hun­dreds of re­us­able bags.

‘‘There were a core lot of ladies that were great sew­ers and they have - and still are - tak­ing [fab­ric] home,’’ Law said.

‘‘They will whip up a bag in around 20 min­utes, when they’ve got time.’’

Long-time shop vol­un­teer Lor­raine Boyce said, to date, she had made ‘‘well over 100 bags’’ out of cur­tain drapes, bed­spreads and pil­low­cases.

‘‘My first bag took me around two-and-a-half hours to make, but now I can make 14 bags in around three hours,’’ Boyce said.

‘‘I make what I can, when I get the time, with my over­locker sewing ma­chine.

‘‘Even a spare half hour can be used to cut out some han­dles or iron out a bag.’’

Law said The Hospice Shop’s re­us­able bags were avail­able in a range of sizes, colours and fab­rics.

‘‘They’ll be bags that you will use over and over again,’’ she said.

‘‘And some are re­ally lovely bags that you wouldn’t mind sling­ing over your shoul­der.’’

A re­us­able bag costs $2-$4, de­pend­ing on the size, colour or fab­ric of a bag.

All money raised from bag sales would go back to the hos- pice, ‘‘as with ev­ery­thing sold in the shop,’’ Law said.

Countdown Red­wood­town was one of 10 around New Zealand se­lected to phase out sin­gleuse plas­tic car­rier bags from May 21. Signs in car parks and in store re­mind cus­tomers of the pol­icy change and the charge for a re­us­able bag if they did not bring their own.

Countdown was the first New Zealand su­per­mar­ket to an­nounce plans to re­move plas­tic bags from its check­outs and on­line shop­ping ser­vice for good.

‘‘I’ve found in the last three to four months, peo­ple re­ally changed their think­ing,’’ Law said.

‘‘And I think it’s re­ally good to do that, [rather] then just give them a bag.’’

Law said when asked whether cus­tomers needed a bag or not, about ‘‘50 per cent of them’’ would now de­cline and, in­stead, ‘‘bun­dle what they bought into the car’’.

She said The Hospice Shop was ‘‘still tak­ing su­per­mar­ket bags’’.

‘‘We might as well use them, [rather] then putting them in the land­fill,’’ Law said.

PHOTO: SCOTT HAM­MOND/STUFF

Hospice Shop man­ager Chris­tine Law, left, shows off some of the shop’s re­us­able bags with shop vol­un­teers Jill van An­geren and Joan Fer­gu­son.

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