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Sewing sustainability . . . Kimberley Collins is launching the Timaru branch of the reusable bag scheme Boomerang Bags this weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Greta Yeoman

A global initiative to create handmade reusable bags has arrived in Timaru.

The Boomerang Bags scheme, which started in Australia and has groups in the United States and across New Zealand as well, has been started in Timaru by Kimberley Collins.

The Timaru resident said she was looking forward to the group’s first sewing bee this Saturday after it was postponed due to bad weather last weekend.

The Timaru initiative joins similar schemes in Geraldine, Temuka, Christchurch, Wellington and Nelson, among others.

“I think a lot of people use plastic bags out of convenience, which is completely understandable.” – Kimberley Collins

So far, she was planning for the bags to be available at Amore Wholefoods, Selwyn St Produce and the Timaru Farmers Market, but expected the project to grow.

Miss Collins said it took her about 20 minutes per bag, but hoped a “production line” of volunteers at the sewing bee to sew the bags, attach the straps and put the “Boomerang Bags” patch on would cut the time.

She said the group had received “lots” of donated fabric to use for the bags, but would always welcome more.

Miss Collins said the scheme would give Timaru the chance to be “leaders” in cutting down on plastic bag usage in New Zealand. About 1.2 billion plastic bags are used in New Zealand every year.

At the current rate of the world’s plastics consumption there would be more plastic than marine life in the ocean by 2050, she said.

While the Plastic-Free July scheme highlighted the public’s plastic usage for a month, Miss Collins believed that people could change their plastic habits with a bit of effort.

It also gave people the chance to begin a conversation concerning plastic use, she said.

“I think a lot of people use plastic bags out of convenience, which is completely understandable.”

With an average time of 21 days to make or break a habit, it was a good chance to begin trying to remember to take a reusable bag to the supermarket.

“It’s a small step .. it’s better than doing nothing at all.”

Miss Collins also highlighted that people had only been using plastic bags for the past 40 years or so.

“We used to be able to do it.”

For more information on Boomerang Bags Timaru or its sewing bees, or to obtain the bag patterns if you would rather create bags outside a group setting, search “Boomerang Bags Timaru” on Facebook.