The small but mighty power of Auckland’s Eco Neighbourhoods

by Vomle Springford / 01 November, 2018
Volunteers making Boomerang Bags. The project aims to reduce plastic bag use and fabric waste.

Volunteers making Boomerang Bags. The project aims to reduce plastic bag use and fabric waste.

A rising interest in environmental issues has lead to the establishment of Eco Neighbourhoods, where small groups of people find a way to tackle the Earth’s big problems.

The steady hum of sewing machines is notable when you walk into the Gribblehirst Hub in Sandringham, where volunteers are busy turning scrap fabric into Boomerang Bags.

As the name suggests, the reusable bags are designed to be borrowed and returned, so you don’t have to resort to a plastic bag while out shopping. Pick up and return points are found at Dominion Rd shops.

The Eco Neighbourhood group, started by Lisa Simperingham and Catherine Patten, has just sewn its thousandth bag. Simperingham had been part of a clothes swap group for 10 years when the pair decided to follow the example of other Boomerang Bags groups in Te Atatu and Titirangi. Through word of mouth, the project quickly outgrew her house.

Read more: Can your actions really save the planet? ‘Planetary accounting’ has the answer

Boomerang bags

Volunteers say they enjoy being creative and the social aspect of being in the Eco Neighbourhood group.

It’s a great way to make use of scrap fabric, says Simperingham.

“The fabric is donated – old duvet covers, scraps from clothes people were making, scraps from curtain and upholstery shops. It’s stuff that was going to go into the landfill.”

There’s a growing interest in sustainable community projects, like Boomerang Bags, that tackle global environmental issues, says Eco Neighbourhoods coordinator Heather Lyall.

“It starts with people becoming more conscious themselves.”

Boomerang bags

Groups are running community gardens, beekeeping, pest control, and sustainability workshops, amongst others.

Lyall’s own group, Owairaka, spent the last year setting up a mobile chicken coop that tours member’s homes. Many people wanted their kids to experience keeping chickens and learn about where their food comes from, she says, but don’t necessarily want to have a coop permanently.

Backyard Bee Keepers, another group, create healthy bee environments and remove swarms. “Bees are a really great sign of how healthy our environment is,” says Lyall.

By starting small with basic projects, like learning how to compost, groups find they become interested in doing more, says Lyall.

One such group is in Waterview, which started with a community garden. Someone suggested a central island in the middle of a new state housing development that was going to be concreted over could become a garden instead, so one of the tenants started an Eco Neighbourhood group. Now they have fruit trees, a big herb garden, a butterfly and bee garden, and a shared tool shed and lawnmower, says Lyall.

“Starting somewhere, which you’re passionate about, and becoming more active around it in your community, there’s real power in that.”

For more information on Eco Neighbourhoods, see livelightly.nz/econeighbourhoods. Boomerang Bags is always looking for more volunteers, check out the Facebook page for more information.

Follow NOTED on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and sign up to our twice-weekly email.

Latest

Rethinking the Kiwi dream: How New Zealanders live now
104848 2019-04-22 00:00:00Z Property

Rethinking the Kiwi dream: How New Zealanders live…

by Sharon Stephenson

Would you live with your ex? New Zealanders increasingly live alone or find creative ways to house themselves.

Read more
How the Internet of Things revolution could intensify hacking attacks
104871 2019-04-22 00:00:00Z Tech

How the Internet of Things revolution could intens…

by Peter Griffin

A super-connected world comes with an alarming downside.

Read more
The pioneering Kiwi surgeon who heads a world-leading team
104715 2019-04-21 00:00:00Z Profiles

The pioneering Kiwi surgeon who heads a world-lead…

by Clare de Lore

Harvard-based New Zealander Simon Talbot leads a team of surgeons performing astonishing hand transplants and plays a part in operations that...

Read more
Norah Jones’s new beginning and return to New Zealand
104817 2019-04-21 00:00:00Z Music

Norah Jones’s new beginning and return to New Zeal…

by Russell Baillie

The jazz songstress is staying inspired by writing with others.

Read more
Bill Ralston: Only fundamentalist Christians should be hurt by Israel Folau
104814 2019-04-20 00:00:00Z Social issues

Bill Ralston: Only fundamentalist Christians shoul…

by Bill Ralston

Israel Folau’s social-media post might condemn the Wallabies to Rugby World Cup hell, but the rest of us should ignore him.

Read more
What happens next with the Mueller report?
104863 2019-04-20 00:00:00Z World

What happens next with the Mueller report?

by Noted

Did Trump “corrupt” with intent?

Read more
The Heart Dances: Lifting the lid on the culture clash behind ‘The Piano’ ballet
104740 2019-04-20 00:00:00Z Movies

The Heart Dances: Lifting the lid on the culture c…

by Russell Baillie

Documentary offers an intriguing look at the clash of artistic sensibilities behind adapting The Piano into a ballet.

Read more
How this remarkable native insect is being saved
104836 2019-04-20 00:00:00Z Planet

How this remarkable native insect is being saved

by Jenny Nicholls

Principles of bird conservation are helping to save another remarkable native you’ve never heard of.

Read more