Making Dubuque Green: Boomerang Bags Eliminates Plastic Bag Waste


Marie Brown holds up an old t-shirt. “So we start off with any t shirt. Could be kids sizes, we use any size.”

A group in Dubuque is doing their part to help reduce plastic waste.

With a steady hand, and an easy foot, Brown sews old t shirts into something new. “One of the things that drives me crazy is seeing all the plastic bags stuck in the rocks and the driftwood right next to the river.”

Boomerang bags has been working to eliminate plastic bags in the Dubuque community. Brown explained, “I would say we’re at about 250 bags.”

The Galena branch of Boomerang Bags took Brown under their wings, teaching her how to get the group underway, “Marie just took it on and it took off from there and we never had to look back.”

Marie is looking to help local businesses and parishes provide reusable bags as an alternative option to plastic. She said, “It’s a slow process. Instead of demanding stopping plastic bags we like to encourage it and then we slowly phase it out.”

The group is at about 99.9 percent waste free, with help from hotels and giving strangers to provide supplies. “A lot of our sheets, pillowcases are locally sourced through the hotels here. So instead of those items going into the landfill they donate it to us so we can use them.”

And at the end of the process, one bag saves roughly 125 plastic bags from being used. “We screen print our logo onto them and then we sew on our pocket and then you have a reusable bag.”

And Marie is looking to do it just like that, “I think it’s just one small step at a time.”

Boomerang Bags meets every second Saturday of the month at Upcycle Dubuque and every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at Beth’s Custom Cakes.

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Maggie is a junior at Loras College and is from Mokena, Illinois. She is an anchor, producer, and reporter for LCTV News majoring in media studies with a minor in Public Relations and Politics.

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