By Ananya Bagri and Adhwaith Neralla, Grade 12, East Campus
The first Boomerang Bags (BB) community was started in 2013 in Gold Coast, Australia by two women, Jordyn de Boer and Tania Potts, with the aim of eliminating single-use plastic bags by sewing their own reusable bags from used fabric and cloth. It has since expanded into a global organisation of over 500 communities around the world who have implemented this model within their local community. In total, Boomerang Bags communities have sewn over 185,000 bags and diverted more than 57,500 kg of waste from landfills.
How did Boomerang Bags start at UWCSEA?
Concerned by the unnecessary number of plastic bags given out at stores in Singapore, we researched different ways to combat this problem. We realised that our school is a large contributor to the problem and searched for ways to change the culture of consumption in our school. We came across a Boomerang Bags Facebook ad and were immediately intrigued by it. After further research, we knew that the Boomerang Bags model was perfectly suited to be implemented in school. It appealed to us because it is primarily a grassroots, community-focused initiative that can foster a community of passionate like-minded people. We were also excited by the prospect of reusing fabric and reducing potential landfill waste.
In late January 2018, we contacted Boomerang Bags and founded the first Singapore chapter of the organisation in school with the help of the Service department.
What are the goals of Boomerang Bags?
We believe in changing consumer mindsets and behaviours by providing them with a sustainable, handmade alternative. We want to:
eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags on the UWCSEA East campus
reduce the number of plastic bags that end up in landfills, oceans, and drains instead of buying cloth bags from unknown companies that may operate in an unsustainable manner
influence people through conversations
equip our volunteers with sewing skills
promote environmental sustainability
raise awareness about the detrimental effect of single-use plastic bags on the environment
expand this movement to other schools in Singapore and to local supermarkets
How do I use a Boomerang Bag?
Our bags are used just like any other bag! Anyone can simply take a bag for free and use it! Once you are done with it, you can return it to wherever you took it from so other members of the community can use them too. We are currently in talks to put our bags in the College Shop, where they will replace the current blue plastic bags. Our bags will also be available in the school libraries and the boarding house in the near future.
What has happened so far?
We have given 30 bags to the Fresh Fruit Friday College Service in Junior School which they use to collect the fruits from each classroom.
In October, we trained a group of Grade 10 students from Dover Campus so that they could start up another Boomerang Bags community there. We are excited to see this movement organically grow!
Circle Enterprise, a High School College Service, created a box out of recyclable wood for us to store our bags.
Over 800 square meters of fabric has been donated to us!
We are currently coordinating with Simon Thomas, Director of Facilities and Operations, to place our bags in the College Shop.
How can I get involved?
We want people to be aware of the negative consequences of plastic bags and realise that the Boomerang Bags are a sustainable alternative for the entire community, and thus, must be brought back after use - just like a boomerang. For this reason, the biggest thing you can do to help us is to have conversations and spread the word about this community-driven initiative to exponentially increase our impact because our community can set off a chain reaction of increased awareness about this issue.
But that’s not all - there are other ways you can help! If you are a parent, you can help us by donating sewing equipment or volunteering at our weekly sewing bee which is held in the Changemaker Design Suite (C522) every Monday morning from 9.30-11.30am. If you are a student, we urge you to consider joining our College Service, held on Thursdays from 3.10-4.30pm. You will be able to sign up for Seasons 3 and 4 in the Activities sign-up.
If you have any queries or comments, or if you would just like to get in touch, please email us.