GINA Lopez is no stranger to the campaign trail, and it's her passion for the environment which has led her on her latest quest - to reduce the number of plastic bags used in Yamba.
To do it, she has teamed up with EcoBag Media and launched two initiatives in Yamba, the EcoBag, and her own program, Borrow Me Bags.
"I'm really passionate about waste and if I could dedicate my life to it, I would," Ms Lopez said.
"This is a model that is about education and changing people's behaviour to reduce the impact on the environment."
The EcoBags are made of post-consumer recycled paper and have advertisements on the outside. Ms Lopez has invited Yamba businesses to buy that advertising space.
The EcoBags are then distributed to participating businesses and given to shoppers at the checkout instead of plastic bags.
"It's like a crowd-funded community billboard that highlights local businesses and events, provides dialogue around sustainable living, and ultimately helps reduce plastic pollution in our environment," Ms Lopez said.
As for the Borrow Me Bags, Ms Lopez has scoured pantries, cupboards and car boots to collect as many re-useable grocery bags as possible, which will become available to loan.
Borrow Me Bags allow customers to borrow a bag and return it to any participating store, instead of having to buy their own, which can prove costly.
"It offers another free alternative to plastic at point of sale, and it has that social conscience element to bring the bag back," Ms Lopez said.
"The combination of both of these solutions means that there will be little use for the existence of a plastic bag in Yamba."
After about six months of gaining support, Ms Lopez has a bunch of businesses on board, including Spar, Lone Rock Wholefoods, Leche Cafe, Caperberry Cafe, Yamba Wellbeing Centre, Nortec, CVC, Chamber of Commerce, and Mitre 10.
Businesses that choose to advertise on the EcoBags will receive a large bundle of bags, which can then be relocated to high-distribution areas if the business does not need them.
Spar Yamba Phil Moore gets it and is thrilled to be a part of the project.
"It's great to see businesses in Yamba working together to decrease the number of bags used in our town," Mr Moore said.
"The more we refuse, reduce, repurpose, reuse and recycle the better for everyone - the community and the environment."
The EcoBag initiative and Borrow Me Bags program have already been trialled in Manly with high success and the retention rate of advertisers is 80-100%.
For more information, or to jump on board, phone Ms Lopez on 0423325281 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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