Paekākāriki Says: My Bag’s Not Rubbish!
by Vanessa Crowe, Sustainable Communities Coordinator
Popping down to the shops in Paekākāriki has just changed for the better, thanks to the new reusable bag bank instigated by Flo McNeill. Those shopping and visiting local businesses will no longer have to walk away with yet another plastic or paper bag to be thrown away after serving its average 12 minutes of function. Instead they can opt for a free to use-and-return cloth bag.
Flo felt inspired to do something with a broader reach after participating in Plastic Free July. "Although plastic may be terrible environmentally, even I have to admit it is really useful and something most of us rely upon daily, so we can't just expect to successfully live in a vacuum if it were to be eliminated over night. I prefer to crowd it out with better, more sustainable options."
"When I was sourcing feedback and ideas for this project, many people asked why we couldn't just have paper bags as an option. To be honest I was really surprised when I went looking for comparison studies of the full product life-cycle of different bags only to find out that paper can be many times worse than plastic for it's toxic legacy."
Remembering a “Bag Bank” idea that Stacey Gasson had talked of a few years earlier, Flo decided that with so many disposable plastic and paper items being practically unavoidable in our daily lives, shopping bags did not have to be one of these. She pitched the idea to the Community Board and successfully received funding to establish the Paekākāriki Bag Bank.
The cloth bags were actually donated, so the funding went towards screen printing a beautiful design onto the bags. Flo set up a local design competition to involve the wider Paekākāriki community in the project right from the beginning. The designs had to identify the purpose of the bag bank, and to communicate how it works, other than that, it was over to locals to use their creativity. The competition winner then had their design printed onto the bags as well as receiving prizes donated by local businesses. A judging panel of three Paekākāriki personalities, Horace the Mayor of Mainstreet, Sir John Trimmer, and Councillor Janet Holborow had the tricky task of selecting the final winner, and announced it to be the stunning design by local artist Rachel Gannaway. Her print features local eels and kowhai flowers.
The bags are now printed and available to be borrowed from two spots outside the local shops, providing a practical way for community to bring about change and to support more sustainable consumer behaviour. In true Paekākāriki style the project makes visible the community's commitment to reducing their demand on the world's resources, raising consumer awareness about the issues of waste and pollution while also providing cool designer bags for local use.
For more information email [email protected] or check out their facebook page.
Thanks to the Paekākāriki Community Board, Foresight Clothing, the Paekākāriki Fruit & Vege Shop, Paekākāriki Village Grocery Store, The Beach Road Deli, The Perching Parrot Cafe, In Use Clothing, Roots Hair Design, Hearts & Roses, Paekākāriki Chiropractic, Paekākāriki 88.2FM, Finn's Pub, and Paekākāriki School.