Bellingen plastic-free shopping

Joanne Lowe with the Boomerang bags

Joanne Lowe with the Boomerang bags

Joanne Lowe, co-ordinator of Bellingen Boomerang Bags, is feeling despondent about the fact that she’s not spotting them in use around the town.

“Since April we've made hundreds of cloth bags as a plastic alternative for Bellingen shoppers - but how many do you see being used?" Joanne said.

Her 10-year-old daughter Tara, as much a driving force in this project as her mother, said: "I wonder where they are going. It would be sad if they are just sitting around, in a car or cupboard." 

A dedicated band of bag-making volunteers has been meeting regularly to help Bellingen shoppers reduce and reuse.

"I've really enjoyed meeting up and being part of the team, but at the end of the day, it's dispiriting if the bags aren't being used," said Robyn, one of the volunteers.

"Although our screenprint says 'Borrow and Bring Back', we don't mind if they are just kept and used again and again by the same person forever. We just want them used - or returned so someone else can use them." 

Boomerang Bags is an initiative that started in Burleigh Heads in Queensland in 2013 and has been taken up by communities all around the world. 

"It's not just about replacing plastic bags," Joanne said, "but increasing awareness about lots of sustainable options that are already out there." 

And it promotes recycling: all the bags themselves are from fabric that the Bellingen community has donated. "We have had lots of support," says Pamela, another regular volunteer, "in themselves, these bags are a great example of recycling resources". 

In Bellingen, Boomerang Bags can be found and returned to IGA, Kombu, the Greengrocers, the Video Shop, Life House Op Shop and Alchemy. 

Boomerang bags hanging at IGA

Boomerang bags hanging at IGA