The Bag Ban

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I really wish I did not feel compelled to write this post and I apologise in advance to those readers who live in jurisdictions not affected by the impending plastic bag ban in Queensland.

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It seems to have generated some of the most ridiculous comments I have heard in a long time.

I offer the following observations.

Lightweight plastic shopping bags have not been around forever.  They have been in use in Australia for less than 50 years.

Remembering to take your reuseable bags is as simple as remembering to take your purse and keys when you go shopping.

The ban is about the lightweight carry bags only – not the thicker plastic bags which some supermarkets may choose to sell, nor the flimsy plastic bags for produce.  However, you can choose to refuse these too.  Bring your own reuseable carry bags – fabric ones are best.  They are strong, durable and can be washed as often as required.  You can also buy or make lightweight produce bags for fruit and vegetables.

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You do not need supermarket carry bags to line your bin.  Rather than re-invent the wheel please read this post.

Instead of railing against the fact that supermarkets are profiteering, that the ban will not reduce plastic use, that you will not have a bag to line your bin, that other plastic bags are still available and so on, let us use this as a real opportunity to take a leap forward in moving away from a range of single-use plastics.  We do not have wait until change is legislated and forced upon us.  Take the lead and make a difference now.

The ban on lightweight carry bags should be just the beginning.  Plastic Free July looms on the horizon so tomorrow I will address some of the other single-use plastics that we should be campaigning to eliminate.

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Do you have a bag story?  Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-Purposed Boxes

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I am not a great fan of re-purposing as I feel that some people use it as an excuse for not trying to reduce the stuff (particularly packaging) that they acquire.  However, sometimes it is impossible to to gain items.  This was the case recently when my birthday gift from my work colleagues came in 3 matching cardboard boxes.  They looked too good to simply put into the recycling so I put them in the cupboard with the vague notion that I may be able to reuse them as gift boxes as they had no visible brand name on them.

Today I needed to pack up my sewing as I was going to a production day for our Boomerang Bag group.  I keep all of the sewing threads in a small plastic basket but it was not really easily transportable as it does not have a lid.  Additionally, the basket was overflowing, thanks to several reels of thread that had been given to me recently.

Thank goodness for the boxes.

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The threads fitted easily in 2 of the boxes and I put the box of bobbins as well as scissors, pins etc in the third box.

The slide-on covers mean that things could not fall out during transport.

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I have decided to keep the threads in the 2 boxes on the shelves in my sewing room.  The other notions are back in their regular places and the third box is available to transport them on future occasions.

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The small white basket at the far left of the shelf is identical to the empty one which previously held the threads.  I will probably rearrange things of some of the shelves and use it for storing other items.

The plastic baskets have stood the test of time as I originally bought them for dividers in the drawers of our bathroom vanity unit.  I subsequently replaced them with some straight-sided containers which were a better fit for that space.

A Deadline

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A bit quiet on the blogging front as I have been busy sewing.  As always, once I get started on a sewing project I just want to keep going.  However, this is more than just my own interest which is driving me – it is a deadline.

Sunday 28th January will see the official launch of Maleny Boomerang Bags.  In order to make this a successful event, we want to have has many completed bags as possible available on the day.

I have been doing my bit and have finished 10 so far.  Here are some of them.

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I have more straps made and bags cut out so hope to be able to add to that number before Sunday.

You would think that would be relatively easy since tomorrow is Australia Day and we have a 3 day weekend but there is the small matter of the Australian Film Festival.  This festival is an annual event hosted by the Maleny Film Society and we will be attending 4 films over 2 days as well as a couple of additional sessions so I am not sure how much sewing will get done.

To my Australian readers – what are your long weekend plans?

Boomerang Bags – Getting Started

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Some years ago I was introduced to a person whose first comment to me was, “What is your passion?”  I was absolutely floored and had no idea what to say.  I consider myself to be a well-rounded person with a range of interests but as for a particular passion – I think I just stammered something unintelligible.

However, I think I have just discovered something that satisfies my twin passions of sewing and environmental activism combined with a healthy dose of community action.  I did not realise when I first went to a meeting in December about this initiative, how satisfying it would be to be involved in this project.

When I was in Maleny this morning I picked up some pieces of fabric screen-printed with the Maleny Boomerang Bags logo.  This was the last hurdle to making a start on making the bags.

I had previously located and washed several pieces of suitable fabric, sourced the pattern and instructions and even had my sewing machine serviced.  It really needed to be done before I embarked on the numerous sewing projects I have planned for 2018.

Whilst I will use some production line techniques in the future, I made the first bag as a complete process from beginning to end.  This allowed me to understand the sequence and how I could streamline the construction of subsequent bags.

Here is the result.  The logo doubles as a pocket.

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There are 8 bags cut out and straps made so now I will be able to do a few at a time.

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This is barely a dent in the fabric I have earmarked for this project.

I am really excited about the launch of Boomerang Bags – Maleny next Sunday and am looking forward to contributing many more bags.

Boomerang Bags

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A few months ago I wrote this post in which I mentioned the fact that I was interested in getting Boomerang Bags started in Maleny.  Well, interest was as far as I got before life and other stuff got in the way.

However, others were a bit more pro-active.  The latest issue of the local newspaper, Hinterland Times, featured an article about 2 enterprising young women in our local community who have set up a Boomerang Bags group in Maleny.

Thanks to the article and the Facebook page, a group of about a dozen people gathered on Monday to discuss how to progress this fabulous idea.  There was lots of positive discussion and I came away with a renewed enthusiasm to be involved in this initiative which has the capacity to make a real difference.

I came home to check my freshly organised stash of fabric and found several pieces, several of them gifted to me, which will be perfect for making the bags.

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My job this week is to wash and iron all of the fabric ready for cutting out.  The calico at the front of the photo will be used for making the screen-printed Boomerang Bag logos which are sewn on the bags.

I am really excited and determined to see our small group have an impact on the plastic bag usage in our town.

If you are reading this and live in or near Maleny and are interested in being involved in any way or donating suitable fabric please let me know.

Here is the official Boomerang Bags website if you would like to set up a group in your community.

Instead of despairing the lack of action by governments, becoming involved in grassroots community initiatives like Boomerang Bags may be the way forward.  I believe we hold the potential to define our future in our own hands.

Taking it to the Streets

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Blog posts have been pretty thin on the ground over the past couple of months.  There has been plenty going on here which would generally be perfect material for posts, however, I have written about most of it before, and in some instances, several times.

I know that there is no reason not to revisit a topic but I have been grappling with a broader issue and want to discuss that here today.  I am looking for other people’s views and would really appreciate your input.

It is good to be doing what you can within your own home and personal decisions with regard to reducing your carbon footprint but should we be doing more?  To really make a difference it is vital that we work to influence change on a bigger scale.  This can be overwhelming and make you wonder whether it is even worth trying but we need to remember that change does not happen overnight nor is it likely to be easy.

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In the past few weeks we have been busy.  We attended a local screening of ‘Before the Flood’ and associated audience discussion. This is a 2016 documentary on climate change features Leonardo DiCaprio.  Like anything on this topic it left me torn between optimism that we can all make a difference and despair that any action will really be a matter of ‘too little, too late’.  However, my final decision is a renewed enthusiasm to really make a difference as soon as possible.

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On a more local note, I went to an information evening about recycling in the Sunshine Coast Council area which was presented by Barung Landcare with a speaker, Sandie Johnston from Envirocom, an environmental consultancy who provide education and training for Sunshine Coast Council.  Waste minimisation and recycling have been at the forefront of my actions for over 25 years and this was an eye-opening presentation.  Some things have changed with regard to recycling so it is great to have up-to-date information that I know is accurate for our local council area.  I am looking forward to sharing this information in the hope that it can be disseminated more broadly which should lead to a greater compliance with recycling ‘rules’.

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I also attended one of the five consultation evenings regarding the ongoing management of the Maroochy River estuary as preservation of our natural environment is critical and the issue of coastal management is paramount if we are to protect low-lying areas such as Cotton Tree from inundation.  Whilst the issue of replacing the geotextile bag groynes with rocks may only have come to the notice of some people recently, there has been a small but dedicated band of people working to preserve the natural river mouth for at least 40 years.  This is a perfect example of long-term activism.  If you live in the Sunshine Coast Council area or visit the Maroochy River estuary (Cotton Tree) please consider completing the council survey here.

Just like charity, activism begins at home, or at least in your local area so here are a few ideas that have caught my interest.

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I have begun looking into the idea of Boomerang Bags with a view to getting this idea up and running in Maleny.

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A couple of months ago I joined Spare Harvest, an online platform dedicated to sharing garden produce and resources.

I have been active in a couple of different Zero Waste/War on Waste Facebook groups and am pleased to have discovered a local Sunshine Coast group.  These really seem to have gained momentum since the ‘War on Waste’ television program here in Australia.  I am hoping to be able to connect with more local people to see what difference we can make as a group.

I will continue to write about the small things I do each and every day to live more sustainably  but I am looking forward to trying to extend this to more people in the community and I hope to share more of that with you, too.

 

10 Days

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Yes, it is 10 days since my last blog post.  There is no good reason – I just took a break.

I think the biggest news (in Australia) in the past couple of weeks has been the announcement by Woolworths that they will stop using single-use plastic bags.  This was closely followed by Coles announcing that they would do the same.  Here is a news report.  I have not commented on this announcement so now is probably as good a time as any.

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“What a great initiative” was my my immediate thought, especially in the midst of Plastic Free July.  Perhaps the movement was really starting to gain some traction with mainstream consumers?

My optimism was short-lived as I began to hear and read various responses.  In fact, despair would have been a more accurate description of my mood over the following days.

Here is a round-up of the sort of comments that came to my notice:

  • It is only so they (supermarkets) can sell more heavy-duty plastic carrier bags.
  • Green bags are made from a plastic-based fabric – you have to use them 347 times to make the impact less than the single-use plastic bags.
  • What will I use to collect dog poo when out walking?
  • Research shows that the sale of bin liner bags has increased in those states that have completely banned single-use plastic bags.
  • What will I use to line my bins?

Seriously??

It is evident that many, many people have long way to go before they understand the impact of the millions of plastic bags which are produced every year and used only once.  They also do not appear to be prepared to adjust their lifestyle even slightly.

So, how do you counter these and a million other ill-informed comments?

The first and simplest thing is to consider investing in some strong fabric bags that do not contain plastics.  I can assure you that these will last for many, many years and can be repaired as necessary.

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Work towards generating less waste so that you have a reduced need for bin liners.  Purchasing larger packs, from bulk bins, unwrapped, using your own produce bags will all assist in reducing the amount of packaging waste.

Take more care with grocery shopping and buy only what you will actually use.  Remember, first world countries such as Australia, the USA and UK discard around 25% of all food produced.  Make sure you are not part of this dreadful statistic.

Consider composting food scraps to reduce the amount which you currently send to landfill.  Even if you do not have access to a backyard there are numerous systems available which can be used by people living in apartments.  Additionally, there are opportunities to connect with people who may be happy to take your scraps for their compost system or search for a community garden in your area.  Online connections are invaluable in the 21st century for developing relationships which are mutually beneficial.  One such example is Spare Harvest which is building a sharing community for excess produce, plants and garden resources.

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Small bins that do not contain wet food scraps can be lined with newspaper.  So, the naysayers point out that not everyone gets the newspaper anymore!

The real point of this post is to encourage everyone to take a positive, solution-based approach to change.  We need to be looking for innovative ways to reduce our environmental footprint rather than railing against any change which may happen to impact our wasteful lifestyle.

I live in a semi-rural area and our local town has a Woolworths and IGA supermarkets as well as a selection of independent retailers.  Almost all of these businesses routinely provide plastic bags for purchases.  I believe that the impending phasing out of plastic bags by the retail giants can taken up by all retailers and set a precedent by making Maleny plastic bag free.

I intend to promote this idea and encourage others to become involved.  My first strategy will be to contact the IGA supermarket and ask them to match the Woolworths ban on plastic bags.  I am also looking into the Boomerang Bags project which would be a perfect way to introduce people to the options available to fill the void left by the removal of plastic bags.