07 4032 1746 admin@cafnec.org.au

PROJECT

Boomerang Bags

About Boomerang Bags Cairns

 Started in Burleigh Heads and now spread over the world, Boomerang Bags is a community-driven initiative tackling plastic pollution at the grassroots level where volunteers get together to make re-useable bags out of recycled material.

Through Boomerang Bags we intercept materials that would otherwise go to landfill, facilitate conversations, and work towards shifting society’s throwaway mentality to a more sustainable revolution of reuse – one needle and thread at a time.

“Through the combined efforts of over 150 volunteers we have sewn over a 1000 bags and had hundreds of conversations about plastic waste with locals”

– LOU, VOLUNTEER

Our Story

Boomerang Bags Cairns started in the upstairs library of CAFNEC with a small group of friends. 

Thanks to a sustainability grant from Cairns Regional Council awarded at the end of 2016, Cairns and Far North Environment Centre, were able to establish and grow Boomerang Bags Cairns. The initial funding provided us the opportunity to form this amazing and growing community, around sewing and the fight against plastic and waste in general. 

In Febuary 2017 we held our first ever sewing bee organised by the CAFNEC Marine Response team. It was chaotic and awesome in equal measures as we sought out to find the most efficient way to make bags with dozens of people. The first sewing bee was probably our least productive, and maybe the bags of the lowest quality but the sewing bug was caught and our intentions set!

In April the Boomerang Bags Cairns Committee was officially born to steer the group, organise sewing bees, cut fabric, make take home packs, give talks at schools and community groups, run stalls and forge connections throughout the wider community with the project. An extremely special mention needs to go to Lou, Carla, Sam, Adele and Alice who have figuratively put their fabric under the machine all year (apologies for the sub par sewing analogy!) Boomerang Bags as it is wouldn’t exist without them. Period. Volunteer power to the people.

Three years on and the Boomerang Bags Cairns community is growing more and more, and it is not the tea, coffee and yummy cakes and biscuits that are bringing them. They are dedicated volunteers who have a passion for sewing, a motivation for tackling the plastic issue and enjoy making good friends along the way. And when we find newly-made Boomerang Bags at the front door all ready to be added to the pile from take home kits, we just can’t rub the smiles off our faces. It isn’t just the volunteers though, we have had countless offers of support from other community groups, schools and businesses throughout the year. 

We have seen beautiful collaborations come out of the project such as when a big load of sheets were kindly donated from the Holiday Inn that would have otherwise been destined to landfill. We sent them over to the creative students from the special education unit at Gordonvale State School who fabric painted them with colourful designs as a part of a unit they were doing on turtles and plastic. Each student painted one sheet and they were sent back to us to make into beautiful and funky bags. This is just one example of the inspiring community connections that have grown out of this project, thank you Gordonvale State High School.

Cairns State High School students have also been involved by sewing bags as a part of their year 9 studies. We provided donated material and instructions to create bags and the class made over 50 bags! The students became a part of an initiative teaching them the issue of plastic waste, and its devastating implications on our marine life. Thank you Cairns State High!

Just before Christmas in 2017 we hit the streets of Cairns to start the official distribution of the bags after sewing over 500 at that time. Roving around the city with our plastic menace – the plastic bag monster, and dressed in sandwich boards, aprons and with Boomerang Bags in arm we launched right into it! We wanted to have the greatest impact on people, not only by scaring them with our plastic bag monster but by having one-on-one conversations “about waste, about sustainability and about community, empowering people to be part of the solution”. Our motto is ‘one bag equals one conversation’. 

By 2018, Boomerang Bags Cairns chapter had made and distributed over 1000 bags. At the same time, we were promoting and supporting Queensland’s plastic bag ban and having conversations with people about why it was so important to transition away from petroleum-based plastics. On 1 July 2018, Queensland introduced a state-wide ban on thin plastic bags. 

While the state-wide ban drastically helped to reduce plastic bags in the check-out aisle, it failed to address plastic produce bags (also called “barrier bags”) for loose fruits and veggies. Since March 2019 we’ve started making produce bags from mesh and thin donated fabric and have distributed hundreds to the community in our first year.  

Get Involved

Sign up for the Boomerang Bags Cairns Newsletter

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Join our Sewing Bees

Boomerang Bags Cairns meets on the first Thursday of every month from 4.30 to 8.00 pm to sew Boomerang Bags as a group. We sew, we chat, we drink tea and usually, there’s cake too! Got a sewing machine? – definitely bring it along! Don’t have one or can’t sew? There are plenty of other jobs and with the expertise present, you can learn to sew too.

2020 Sewing Bee Dates: 6 Feb, 5 Mar, 2 Apr, 7 May, 4 June, 2 July, 6 Aug, 3 Sept, 1 Oct, 5 Nov, 3 Dec
Location: Downstairs of Cominos House, 27 – 29 Greenslopes Street, North Cairns.
Join our Facebook Group:
 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/BoomerangBagsCairns/

Become a Business Sponsor

Can your business help us to make and distritube the next 1000 Boomerang Bags? Currently, Boomerang Bags costs us about $3000 a year in rent, capital, and management costs. Whether your contribution can be large or small, we’d love your support. In return, we will give you a range of benefits detailed below including making our Gold Sponsor a custom-made certificate: on a Boomerang Bag!

Sponsorship Tiers:
Bronze ($250 yearly): Your business logo displayed at sewing bees and stalls, and a shout-out on our Facebook page. (Up to 4 businesses).
Silver ($500 yearly): Bronze awards, plus have your logo displayed on our promotional emails sent monthly (Up to 2 businesses).
Gold ($1000 yearly): Bronze + Silver awards, plus your logo on all of our Facebook events, all promotional emails, flyers and receive a one-of-a-kind ‘certificate bag’ of gratitude hand-made by Boomerang Bag volunteers which can be displayed at your business. (Up to 1 business).

Interested? Email projects@nullcafnec.org.au for more info

Donate Material

We welcome the donation of material, which can be left in our Boomerang Bag Donations Bin upstairs of Cominos House, 27-29 Greenslopes Street, Cairns North.

Please keep in mind:
1) Recycled fabric only please: reduce, reuse, repurpose
2) Be sure fabric items are clean and free of debris, mould or mildew
3) Cotton or poly cotton works best
4) Smaller pieces are acceptable as long as they are the size of a pillowcase
5) Curtains are a great source for larger sized pieces (as are sheets) but please keep in mind that thick materials don’t work well in machines and thin materials are not strong enough for bags (Eg. old sheets are often very thin)
6) No clothing donations please

Run a Stall

Boomerang Bags isn’t just about sewing. The real impact occurs when volunteers hit the streets and distribute bags to our community.

With each bag distributed, we are having one-on-one conversations not only about plastic bags but about treading lightly on the planet more generally. Perhaps you could commit to running a stall in your suburb? 
Interested? Email projects@nullcafnec.org.au for more info

Involve your school

Boomerang Bags Cairns would love to have your school’s help. By being a part of Boomerang Bags it allows your students to be a part of a hands-on activity in which they are able to see direct environmental and behavioural change within their local community. It provides students with a place to have discussions about all things plastic and how we can all reduce our waste.

1)  Make bags as a project in relevant classes for us – we can supply the fabric.

2)  Add colour – have a tie-die / painting activity with donated white sheets (we can provide the sheets).

3)  Run a ‘material drive’ at your school to collect second-hand fabric and thread.

Interested? Email projects@nullcafnec.org.au for more info

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