Author Archives: Bess

  • 0

Cairns Plastic Free Business Directory

We’ve started a plastic-free business directory for Cairns and would love your input!

Do you own a single-use plastic free business? Can you think of a business that you frequent that should be on the list?

Fill out the form below and let us know – we will add it to the list!

We can to list businesses that either:
a) don’t have any single-use plastic,
b) have ditched some single-use plastic Eg. bags, or,
c) stock mostly package free products.

Let’s expand this directory together to make it easy for others in Cairns to go plastic free!

Community Foods Cairns
What they sell ‘We stock a range of organic, biodynamic, & health foods. We can provide any quantity, including unopened bags in bulk for cheaper prices. We support local suppliers.’
How they’re plastic free No waste shop – everything in bulk with paper bags available or BYO containers
Address 74 Shields St, Cairns. Queensland
Phone 07 4041 5335
Instagram @communityfoodscairns
Enviromart Australia
What they sell ‘Enviromart Australia offers a wide variety of eco friendly organic and ecologically sustainable alternatives to help you reduce your carbon footprint and step a little lighter on the earth.’
How they’re plastic free No plastic bags, environmentally conscious product line
Address Corner James and McLeod Streets, Cairns North, Queensland, 4870
Phone 07 4041 2233
The Healthy Hub
What they sell Bulk food, organic, biodynamic supermarket options
How they’re plastic free No plastic bags, some bulk food options
Address 45 Moffat St, Cairns North QLD 4870
Phone (07) 4051 5688
Real Food Network
What they sell Fresh, local produce (lots of organic and spray free options)
How they’re plastic free They do provide plastic bags, however it is easy to take your own bag and buy produce plastic free
Address Rusty’s Markets, Cairns, Queensland 4870
Phone 0414 608 234
Rusty’s Markets
What they sell Fresh produce markets
How they’re plastic free They’re not (most vendors provide plastic bags) however it is easy to take your own bag and buy produce plastic free
Address 57-89 Grafton Street, Cairns
Phone 07 4031 5698
Instagram @RustysMarkets
The Source Bulk Foods Cairns
What they sell ‘..bulk wholefoods, health foods and a huge range of paleo, gluten free, organic & vegan products’
How they’re plastic free No waste shop – everything in bulk with paper bags available or BYO containers
Address 10/85 Lake St Cairns, Queensland
Phone 07 4031 5698
Instagram @thesourcecairns
  Cairns Hillslopes Hunny
What they sell They sell products from their own hives : hunny, honeycomb and beeswax
How they’re plastic free The beekeeper Roy sells his honey in recycled glass bottles. He provides too only paper bags for packaging.
Address Local markets: Holloways Beach markets and Tanks market
Phone 419644852
Want your business on the list? Enter your info here
Think of a business we should add? Let us know:

  • 0

Blog: Boomerang Bags February Update

Hi Boomerang Bag crew,

Thanks so much to everyone who came along to our first sewing bee. For those who weren’t able to make it we look forward to meeting you soon!

The numbers are in for the first sewing bee:

Item Tally
Complete bags 8
‘Very, nearly, almost’ complete bags 14
Bag pieces with pockets pre-attached 10
Cut bag pieces 65
Printed pockets 86
Sewn or ironed handles 20 sets
Cut handles 60 sets
Cut tags Lots and lots and lots

Boomerang Bags national recommend that each community should reach a ‘critical mass’ of 1000 bags before launching them into the community. So we have a few to go if we aim for this target but I’m sure each sewing bee we will get more and more efficient!

Drawing on the learning of the first meet up we’ve had a few ideas to streamline the process that we’ll implement at the next sewing bee:

  • Have a designated cup of tea/chat break half way through: we aren’t machines after all 😛
  • More of a production line with sewing machines/overlockers: piles with different stages of bag and assigning each machine a role
  • More irons and ironing boards for pockets and handles
  • Make up bag kits for people who can’t attend meetings to take home and sew
  • Make the sewing station larger (and use limited space better)
  • Making the instruction sheets for each station even bigger and clearer and assigning a volunteer to keep an eye over each station and how it’s going
  • Getting non-sewers who would like skills to sit with sewers and learn
  • Better rotation for those who want to try out different things.
  • Start at 4.30 instead of 4.00
  • Make sure the aircon isn’t temperamental again
  • Better explanation and clearer signs of where materials are: thread, scissors, extension chords etc.

We want your feedback: what creative ideas do you have to build Boomerang Bags Cairns? What ideas do you have from the first meeting? Let us know in this survey: (It’s anonymous!)

Thursday 2nd March 4.30pm – 7.30 pm (that’s next week!)
Where: Downstairs of Cominos House 27-29 Greenslopes St, Cairns North
Facebook Event:
What to bring: sewing machine or overlocker (if you have one), recycled fabric, snacks to share, or just yourself 🙂

A lot of people asked if they should bring their machine (or overlocker) along: yes, if you do have one then bring it along as it seems the back log in our production line so far has been the sewing stage. In saying this if you don’t have a machine don’t let that stop you from coming at all: there are so many other tasks that need to be done Eg cutting, printing, ironing, sorting, organising chatting 😛 You can also sit in with a sewer and learn.

Can’t come along but still want to help?

Do you have any fabric at home that may never be used? Donate it and we will turn it into Boomerang Bags. Anything will do so long as it isn’t overly thick or stretchy, even old sheets can be chopped up to be given a second life. We will also be gladly accepting donations of thread and any sewing accessories. Please bring in to the CAFNEC office (we will also have a donation box on the veranda for when office is closed).

One more thing:

In case you missed it: the Queensland Government has committed to banning single-use plastic bags in 2018 – hoorah! A discussion paper has been released and public input is being sought  via an online survey into what a ban may look like in practice. To help you out the Cafnec Marine Response Team have put together some points which may help you guide your response. The survey closes on Monday 27th March so have your say now!


  1. Join ‘Boomerang Bags Cairns’ Facebook group:
    (Don’t worry if you don’t have Facebook – I will continue to communicate via emails also)
  2. Feedback on first sewing bee:
  3. ‘Like’ our Cairns and Far North Environment Centre page (
  4. ‘Like’ our CAFNEC Marine Response Team page (
  5. Have your say on the Qld Governments plastic bag ban survey: closes Monday 27th March
  6. Have a friend who is interested? Get them to sign up for the email list here:

Further reading: check out the national website or join the national Boomerang Bags Facebook group as a great place to get ideas on how others are running Boomerang Bags (

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact Bess, Community Engagement Coordinator at CAFNEC on 4032 1746 or

Flyer 1pg any date

  • 0

Response Guide: Qld Gov Survey on plastic bag ban

Jellyfish-bar_edRW small


The Queensland Government has committed to banning single-use plastic bags in 2018 – hoorah! They have released a discussion paper and are seeking public input via an online survey into what a ban may look like in practice. The CAFNEC Marine Response Team have put together some points which may help you guide your response. The survey closes on Monday 27th March so have your say now!

Click here to start the Qld Government survey on banning light weight plastic bags now.

Q1. Do you think that 1 July 2018 allows enough time for consumers and retailers to transition to plastic bag alternatives?

  • Yes, people will adapt quickly to bringing their own bags.
  • It has shown to be successful in many other states and countries.
  • An education program for both consumers and retailers should be introduced prior to the ban date to educate on the problem of single-use plastic and the benefits of, and best alternatives to use.
  • Important it is introduced at an appropriate time for retailers, i.e. not at Easter or Christmas.

Q2. Do you agree that biodegradable bags should be included?

  • Yes
  • Taking away all plastic bags will help people to transition.
  • Degradable bags are designed to break into smaller pieces and resemble food for wildlife even more that standard bags.
  • Biodegradable bags contain toxic agents to slow down decomposition taking up to two years to fully decompose. Throughout this time they are in the environment doing damage.
  • People are more likely to litter biodegradable bags thinking that they are ok for the environment.

Q3. Do you support the Queensland Government working with other states and territories to encourage industry to reduce the number of heavier weight plastic department store bags?

  • Include heavier plastic bags in the policy now. Voluntary action to reduce will include education coupled with either a ban/alternative product or a levy on bags anyway.
  • Alternatives to thicker bags, such as consumers just using their own bags or recycled paper bags, must be encouraged.
  • Heavy duty plastic bags take even longer to break down in the environment than normal ones

Q4. What else can be done by the Queensland Government to address plastic pollution?

  • Stop mass release of helium balloons in Queensland. Once released they end up in the ocean and become a serious threat to wildlife.
  • Find alternative to single use bait bags for fishing
  • Plastic items such as polystyrene cups and plates, plastic straws, plastic food ware, and other plastic packaging and food trays should be added to a list of problematic plastics for future policy and education campaigns. Ideally, a future ban like in France should take place.
  • Microplastics (fibres, film, pellets and beads) also need to be managed – either through bans, take back schemes, filtration systems or simply using alternative, non-disposable, or organic items
  • Action needs to be taken towards disposal of cigarette butts which are plastic fibres and usually contaminated with chemicals.
  • Provide incentives for outlets to use compostable crockery such as the brand BioPak, as alternatives to plastic
  • Put in place more bottle refilling stations to encourage people to bring their own bottle and not buy bottled a water
  • Provide better education around recycling, especially in schools
  • Provide more bins in public places, with a recycling bin alongside each one
  • Include tip fees in house rates to reduce illegal dumping
  • More monitoring and strict prosecution of people who dump illegally
  • Advertise and encourage more clean-ups, more often
  • Re-introduce littering advertisements on television
  • Put filters on washing machines to prevent synthetic remnants from entering the drain system
  • Collect and monitor rubbish at tributaries, particularly after the first flood of the season, as is done in Port Douglas, FNQ
  • Introduce soft plastics recycling in all cities, not just major ones
  • Effective implementation of the Container Deposit Scheme scheduled for 2017
  • Provide funding for programs for non-profit groups working on the ground to reduce plastic in the environment Eg. Boomerang Bags, Tangaroa Blue and other community initiatives such as the Drain Stencil Project that spread the message about litter polluting the Great Barrier Reef

Click here to complete the Qld Government survey now

  • 0

Adopt a Drain: Great new initiative in Cairns!

Everyone needs to check out this AMAZING stop motion video put together by Riley Luckett, a Cairns primary school student who has been a part of the Holloways Beach Environmental Education Centre‘s enrichment program this year. Riley is asking the residents of Cairns to ‘Adopt a Drain in their street to reduce the urban waste entering our oceans via the storm water network. Go Riley!! How do you adopt a drain? Simply go outside and pick one, then it’s your responsibility to make sure the drain remains clean – pick up the rubbish in your street and make sure the drains aren’t clogged with palm fronds and other garden debris, you’ll be thanking Riley when the wet season comes!

Check out Riley’s website here

If you’re interested in reducing rubbish entering our stormwater network and oceans why not come and do some drain stencilling with the Cafnec Marine Team? To find out more and register click here

  • 0

The Plastic Puzzle: Great blog by primary student!

Check out this great blog, ‘The Plastic Puzzle’ by primary school student, Oliver. Oliver has participated in the Holloway’s Beach Environmental Education Centre’s enrichment program this year and has put together a fantastic blog on single use plastic and its prevalence in our society. We have a lot to learn from the next generation, well done Oliver!


Read Oliver’s blog now

  • 0

DIY: Almond Milk

You’ll need:

1 cup almonds
4 cups water
Muslin cloth or teatowel for straining

  1. Soak almonds overnight in water
  2. Strain soaked water and rinse almonds
  3. Place in blender and add 4 cups of water
  4. Blend until smooth and creamy
  5. Strain blended mixture through muslin cloth or tea towel
  6. Voila! Your almond milk is ready to drink

You’ve also made almond meal (left inside the muslin material) freeze it to use in for smoothies, cakes and more!

You may want to change the ratio of water to almonds to suit your taste – more water = less creamy but more quantity, less water = more creamy but lower quantity milk (and more expensive)


  • 0

Plastic Free Bathroom & Sanitary Products

Here’s a few links to some plastic free companies that you can order from online

Toilet paper:

Who Gives a Crap sell plastic free toilet paper that is delivered to you door. The paper is 100% recyclable and half of their profits are donated to water aid.

Beauty Products:

Ethique are a New Zealand based company that make plastic free solid beauty products available for purchase online.

Lush sell shampoos, deodorants, bath bombs and soap all plastic free. While they do have some products that come in recycled plastic 46% of their product line is plastic free.

Sanitary products:

Moon cup sell silicone menstrual cups meaning you will never have to buy tampons again

Luna also sell silicone menstrual cups, and also material, washable and reusable sanitary pads

  • 0

How to make your own insect repellent


Coconut oil
Eucalyptus oil
Tea tree oil
Citronella oil


For a 25ml bottle of repellent: fill 90% with coconut oil. Add 5 drops of citronella, 2 drops of eucalypt and 2 drops of tea tree – voila!

The coconut oil moisterises the skin, which prevents the other oils drying your skin out. It also dilutes the strong essential oils, so that it can be spread across the skin. It has a pleasent and strong smell that repels mossies and midgies.

  • 0

My Plastic-Free July: Amalia’s Story

Check out this Plastic Free July story from our intern at CAFNEC, Amalia. Amalia is studying at Monash University in Melbourne and originally hails from Java, Indonesia.

Hey there!

It’s been two weeks since I pledged to refuse the top 4 single-use plastic i.e. plastic bags, straws, coffee cups, and plastic bottles. It’s been pretty good so far. I made it a habit of carrying a keep cup, a bottle, and an extra food container whenever I go out. So here’s my plastic-free July journey so far:

In my first plastic free July week I went to a drive-in cinema in Mareeba and requested my milkshake to be put in my own bottle. My friend stepped back when I ordered, but I got my plastic free chocolate milkshake! Feeling more confident, I tried to order more plastic-free food and beverage that night, I rinsed my bottle with water and ordered a large hot chocolate with marshmallow + a box fries, walked back to the car only to find the ketchup was packaged in plastic! Nooo!

I sent this article to my dad back home. He was pretty excited. Hopefully I can get my family on board to go plastic-free.

Last night I was craving for some food from home and brought my own food container to a Malaysian Restaurant. I ended up buying too much food and had to take one of their food containers home.

In my second week, I tried to cook or dine-in as much as possible, to avoid plastic containers, I have been doing pretty well. I even used my keep cup to get a huge scoop of ice cream on the way back from Fitzroy Island. But yesterday, I went to a sushi restaurant and ordered some food. After a while, a friendly waiter came and handed my sushi rolls in a food container, inside a plastic bag! I asked them whether I can have the sushi on a plate. I felt upset because I know that they will probably throw away the plastic container and the bag.

No cones? You can use your keep cup as an alternative to single-use plastic

No cones? You can use your keep cup as an alternative to single-use plastic

Plastic has a huge presence in our daily life. It took me a while to change my mindset and consumption behavior, and the experience has been quite challenging. It’s even tougher to change other people’s behavior and view towards plastic. However through this experience, I learned that communication is an important key. You can make a difference by talking to your friends, family, the cashier, your local grocer, and to other awesome people who’s going plastic free to share your challenges and get useful plastic-free tips.

If you are interested in joining us and learn more about the cause, come to our weekly workshop. It’s never too late to live a plastic-free life.


  • 0

How to Make Beeswax Reusable Food Wraps




  • Beeswax, grated
  • 100% cotton fabric
  • Baking paper
  • Grater (used only for beeswax)
  • Paintbrush
  • Makeshift clothes line

Using an Iron

  1. Cut the fabric to desired size using pinking shears to prevent the edges from fraying. Commonly used sizes include 34cmx33cm, 28cmx29cm and 19cmx20cm. You can customize size and shaped to suit the items you want to cover.
  2. Place the fabric on a piece of baking paper and sprinkle evenly and lightly with grated beeswax. Its best to start out with less than you think because it is easy to add more if needed.
  3. Cover with a second piece of baking paper and iron gently so the wax melts and spread across the fabric. If you press too hard the melted wax will come out the sides of the paper.
  4. Carefully peel the fabric off the baking paper and hang on a makeshift clothesline to dry. Be careful as the fabric can be quite hot. Once cooled you can use it.


Using an oven

  1. Preheat oven to 85oC
  2. Cut the fabric to desired size using pinking shears to prevent the edges from fraying. Commonly used sizes include 34cmx33cm, 28cmx29cm and 19cmx20cm. You can customize size and shaped to suit the items you want to cover.
  3. Place on cooking tray covered with baking paper or foil.
  4. Sprinkle evenly and lightly with beeswax. You need less than you think!
  5. Place in the preheated oven and watch until all the wax is melted. This should take 5 minutes or less.
  6. Once the beeswax is just melted, remove from oven and use a paintbrush to spread the wax evenly to cover any areas that are not yet coated.
  7. Hang on a makeshift clothesline to dry. Be careful as the fabric can be quite hot. Once cooled you can use it.


  • Wash in cool water with a mild soap. While they can be used for meat it is best to allocate particular wraps for that use to prevent spreading bacteria.


  • If you think the fabric is not coated enough you can add a little more beeswax and repeat the heating process you have chosen.
  • Sometimes the wraps take a few uses to reach their sticking potential. Scrunching them up a few times tends to get the beeswax working.
  • It is also useful to warm them up with your hands before using to help them stick better.
  • Wraps should last several months. If they start to lose their stickiness, just add some more beeswax.