French couple Carole and Antoine Pol-Simon are making their own contribution to clean, green New Zealand.

Carole and Antoine now live in Te Puke and have thrown their enthusiasm and energy behind the town's Boomerang Bags initiative.

The idea is for bags, made from recycled fabric, to eventually be available in the town as an alternative to plastic bags.

Bags are being made at sewing bees held every second Thursday. Last week, volunteers were for the first time, able to sew the new Boomerang Bag labels on the bags.


Carole and Antoine are among the volunteers.

"People can learn to sew as well — Antoine is happy sewing — or they can cut out or iron," says Carole.

Plastic bags were banned in France two years ago and last week the New Zealand Government announced single-use plastic bags were to be phased out over the next 12 months.

Te Puke High School technology teacher Karen McLaren produces some of the highest quality bags, but people are welcome whatever their ability.

"When I do mine, it really looks bad, but it does the job," says Carole.

As well as connecting with new people, Carole and Antoine got involved in the project for environmental reasons.

"I liked the idea as soon as I heard about it and plastic bags are pretty bad," says Antoine.

It is their way of helping create a better New Zealand


"New Zealand is such a great country, it has everything needed to make it green and sustainable — but it could do much better. It needs a change in mindset," says Carole.

Antoine says good initiatives start in the local community and hopefully expand.

"It's about making a change you want to see. New Zealand could be a leader in the world."

The Boomerang Bags concept started in Australia and the local initiative has been driven by EPIC Te Puke.

Marketing manager Rebecca Larsen says stands for the bags are being made and it is likely they will initially be at the town's op shops.

Eventually they will be in other places in the shopping area, so bags can be picked up when they are needed and then dropped off when they are not.

Rebecca says she would like to encourage more young people to become involved in the initiative and in other towns children see and recognise the bags they have made when they are being used.

The bags come in kit form and are in four pieces — the bag, two handles and a pocket.

The organisers are keen to receive fabric for the project. Donations can be left at any Te Puke op shop.

In announcing the phasing out of one-use plastic bags, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was about looking after the environment and safeguarding New Zealand's clean, green reputation.

"Every year in New Zealand, we use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags — a mountain of bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life, and all of this when there are viable alternatives for consumers and business."

■ The next sewing bee will be at Te Puke High School sewing room at 5.30pm on August 23.