Describing herself simply as a mother and worker who cares, Ngatea woman Marie Holtham is on a mission to see her home town lead the way in the war against plastic.
“I’m not a Greenpeace warrior or anything, I’m just someone who is concerned. I read articles about dead whales found with plastic in their stomachs and I want to make it better, that’s all,” she said.
“The plastic problem can seem insurmountable, but the fact is every one of us can make a difference. There are 1,245 people in Ngatea. Imagine if every person says no to just one piece of plastic every week. Suddenly that’s 64,740 pieces of plastic saved per year.”
Ngatea Boomerang Bag Sewing Bee - Saturday 7 July
Supporting Plastic Free July with a Plastic Free Day and Boomerang Bag Sewing Bee on Saturday 7 July, the town’s already well on its way. Ngatea Four Square, Hammer Hardware, Z Service Station and Subway are also all becoming plastic bag free.
A founding member of Boomerang Bags in Ngatea, Marie and her team will be taking part in a Nationwide Sewing Bee and sewing up a storm next to the Four Square from 10am to 4pm. Using donated and recycled fabric, local Boomerang Bag volunteers have monthly Sew Togethers and make reusable bags that are left at businesses around the community. The bags can be borrowed and brought back, kept and reused, or given to others to use. To date the group has sewed 713 bags. On Saturday they hope to reach 1000.
“Everyone is welcome, the more the merrier,” says Marie, “it doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to sew, there are still lots of jobs you can do to help.”
Council looking to support existing community initiatives
Hauraki Plains Ward Chair Gill Leonard says the issue of plastic is very much at the forefront in the country at the moment and there is a real groundswell of people who want to do more to help in Hauraki.
“We’ve just finalised our Long Term Plan and one of the things we heard strongly in the feedback from our communities was that there is an interest in minimising waste and reducing the use of packaging and plastic,” she said.
Waihi Ward Councillor Duncan Smeaton, who is also Council’s solid waste portfolio holder, says the Council is now looking at how it can support existing community initiatives in this area and where there might be opportunities to implement new programmes and ideas.
“In our Long Term Plan, we’ve allocated $10,000 to investigating things such as the possibility of providing a recycling station in Ngatea, the viability of changing to biodegradable Council rubbish bags, and the concept of a community recycling and resource recovery centre like the Seagull Centre in Thames,” he said.
“We’re going to do more to promote and enable recycling and waste reduction, as well as find out more about what’s working well, how that might be replicated, and what more we can do to help.”
Waihi also taking part in National Sewing Bee - Saturday 7 July
The Waihi branch of Boomerang Bags will also be taking part in the National Sewing Bee this Saturday. Member Antonia Rust invites anyone interested in taking part to come along to the Waihi Community Resource Centre from 10am to 2pm.
“You don’t need any sewing experience, we’re happy to help,” she said.
Joining the Waihi group last year, she says it’s great to be able to raise awareness that things can be done differently.
“I liked the idea of using something that already existed, like second-hand material, to make something new that takes away the need to use plastic. I love sewing, I enjoy the social interaction and I’m making a difference for the environment. I think I’ve found the perfect hobby.”