DURHAM, N.C. — City and county officials are deciding whether to approve a proposal for a 10-cent plastic bag fee in Durham. The idea was presented in October by the organization Don’t Waste Durham and the Duke Law Clinic.

In the meantime, a group of volunteers is working to make reusable bags more accessible.


What You Need To Know

Officials are deciding whether to approve a proposal for a 10-cent plastic bag fee in Durham

The Boomerang Bag movement started in Australia as a way to reduce plastic waste

The idea is to use donated or leftover fabric to create shopping bags and make them more accessible

Volunteers with the Bull City Boomerang Bag movement have created and distributed more than 2,000 bags so far


The initiative is called Boomerang Bags, and it’s a global movement that started in Australia. Essentially, people create reusable shopping bags out of donated or leftover fabric. In Durham, the Bull City Boomerang Bag movement is headquartered out of a shop known as Sew Crafty.

“I really really cringe when I see people leaving the grocery store with 20 plastic bags in their grocery cart,” said Toni Mason, the owner of Sew Crafty. “I just want to run after them and say, ‘Do you know where they all end up?’”

Mason is a sewing extraordinaire with a passion for making the world a better place.

“There are lots of causes I care about. Lots of them. Political, civil rights and equal rights. All kinds of things that are very important, but the bottom line to me is none of that is going to matter if our planet burns up,” Mason said.

For the past two years, Mason has helped coordinate volunteers for the Durham Boomerang Bag movement.

“This is such a perfect fit for me, and I can host these volunteer sewing sessions. I have multiple machines and big work tables and ironing boards,” Mason said.

Volunteers work like an assembly line. Mason helps by marking measurements for box corners to be sewn on some bags and repurposing donated shirts.

“We’re using regifted fabric that people didn’t want anymore, and who knows where it would’ve ended up. Also the same with the T-shirts. They were T-shirts that maybe would’ve gone to a landfill,” Mason said.

After just a few cuts the shirt has the handles of a bag. The shirts are turned inside out and each one gets a label before the bottom is sewn shut.

“People often say, ‘Is that strong?’ And it’s real strong,” Mason said.

The possibility of someone using even just one less plastic bag makes this all worthwhile for Mason.

“It’s a drop in the bucket, but we’re doing what we can. You can’t do any more than what you can do. This is what I can do so I’m doing it,” Mason said.

The T-shirt bags are given out for free at a Save a Lot grocery store in Durham, and the patterned bags made out of other fabric are available at locally owned gift stores and thrift shops.

So far, the volunteers in Durham have sewn about 2,000 Boomerang Bags and they are always looking for more volunteers to help.

To learn more about the Boomerang Bag movement in Durham or to volunteer, visit the Don’t Waste Durham website.