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The 'Bag Ladies’ fighting single-use plastic

Words by Smiley Team

The modern plastic bag didn’t come into use until 1965 – and at first, it was seen as an environmental win compared to the previously used paper bags, which required chopping down trees. Now, though – as you probably well know – they're rapidly coming under government imposed restrictions, because they aren't disposed of properly and can't be recycled. 

On a mission to reduce single-use plastic bags, a group of ladies from Kingston, Australia, have spent the last three years, recycling old fabric products into reusable shopping bags. Kingston SE Small Steps, affectionately known around their small town of 2,000 as the ‘Bag Ladies’, are a group of volunteers who are devoted to creating a healthier, and more sustainable Earth.

Initially thinking they would make a few hundred bags, since October 2019 the group has gone on to make nearly 18,000 shopping bags, and 2,000 produce bags out of recycled fabrics.

"After two and a half years of producing our bags, we have recently been contacted by several individuals around the country thinking of starting up a similar programme," says Liz, a spokesperson for the charity. With more and more groups taking up the cause, the world is one step closer to where it needs to be.

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Duvets covers, curtains and tea towels; nothing is too humble for these women to transform into a hand-sewn, environmentally conscious shopping bag.

A well-oiled machine

With their devoted team of volunteers, it only takes the group 15 minutes to make each bag. Their assembly line makes them a well-oiled machine, pumping out reusable, handmade bags that they donate back into the community.

Many of the bags have been donated to local supermarkets. One such supermarket was previously giving out around 3,000 single-use plastic bags on average per week, a huge amount considering the town only consists of around 2,000 people.

Now, though, the supermarkets primarily use these recycled shopping bags, and encourage shoppers to think of the environment before they do their shopping, and bring their own along with them.

Once these bags have been used by shoppers, they can either continue reusing them at home, or donate them back to the Kingston SE Small Steps team, who will wash, iron, and recirculate the bags to be used again. 

Groups like the Kingston SE Small Steps are valuable in helping combat single use plastics, and one step closer to creating a safer, more sustainable planet.

Inspired to act?

MAKE YOUR OWN: Read the 'Bag Ladies' guide to how to make your own recyclable shopping bags.

CHANGE HABITS: Check out Smiley News' 10 ways to become more eco-friendly.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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