Boomerang Bags has made its way across Australia and the world, with more than 860 communities creating recycled fabric bags to reduce landfill waste. West End became involved in the initiative in February last year with locals who had a dream to reduce single use plastic waste in the West End area. The group started Plastic Free West End after seeing massive amounts of plastic waste circulating oceans around the world, and on their local sidewalks.

Surfer and beach lover Lana Barry heads up the Plastic Free West End movement. “Seeing the overwhelming amount of plastic in the ocean and on our beaches is devastating. In West End it’s especially sad to see so much rubbish along the river at Orleigh Park, as all of us in West End love that space, and the river leads out to Moreton Bay. We thought we’d address the problem at the source and work with our local businesses and community to reduce single use plastics.”

Plastic Free West End is asking hospitality and retail businesses to join its mission, by phasing out the six most common single use plastics. “So far we have 10 businesses signed up to this venture and we’ve had a really good response from the community,” Barry said.

Boomerang Bags is an incredible initiative that was started by Tania Potts and Jordyn de Boer at Burleigh Heads and has spread like crazy. “Plastic Free West End focuses on plastic use in West End businesses, but we also wanted the community to get involved, so we started a Boomerang Bag group here in West End.” By involving the community, the group hopes to create more awareness about waste while creating action at a grassroots level. “How it works is we do a shout out to the community for any unwanted fabrics, old sheets, clothes and tablecloths. People have so much of that and it would otherwise go to landfill.”

Currently, Boomerang Bags has used 620,00 kilograms of fabric that would have otherwise been sent to landfill. “The idea is that instead of that going to landfill we take it and turn it into bags that offer an alternative to a plastic bag,” Barry said. Boomerang Bags has created a zero waste system, becoming a catalyst for positive change, with the social and environmental benefits extending well beyond simply replacing plastic bags. Since starting out, the initiative has grown 10-fold from the support of small communities such as West End. “The idea is to make enough bags so we can leave a stand at local shops, so that people who forget their bags can take one as an alternative to plastic. Even with the plastic bag ban, many stores still provide thick plastic bags, so we want to provide a better option.”

Looking to the future, Boomerang Bags hopes to extend its reach throughout the neighbourhood to create a single use plastic free future. “We would love to have more people involved and more people using sustainable alternatives to single use plastic.”

As one of the first Brisbane suburbs to tackle single use plastic waste, 4101 locals have taken a big first step, involving the community in winning the war on waste.

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