Emma Pritchard, Daily Examiner
EVERY year Australian consumers use 6.9 billion plastic bags.
Of that 6.9 billion, 80 million end up as litter in our drains and waterways, setting state and local governments back $200 million a year in cleaning bills.
Seven years ago, Marea Buist from Yamba decided it was time to reduce plastic bag usage in her local area and make a positive difference to the environment.
Ms Buist is part of a group known as the Plastic Bag Free Committee, which also includes Jane Mitchell, Barbara Whale and Helen Tyas Tunggal. Together these passionate women are working towards making Yamba a plastic bag-free town.
“I had an idea to use hemp bags instead of plastic ones,” Ms Buist said.
“Four or five years ago I took my idea to the Yamba Chamber of Commerce and while people were supportive of my idea, they didn't have time to do the groundwork.
“When Tania Williams became president of the Chamber of Commerce she thought this idea was fantastic and with her support we managed to make it public knowledge.”
Launched at the Yamba River Markets on Sunday, Ms Buist's hemp bags have proven a success with the Yamba community.
“The launch was very positive and we received good feedback,” she said.
“The bags were designed by students from St James here in Yamba and it's great to have locals, especially children, involved with their production.