Put it in a Morsbag

It is estimated that one Morsbag can be used the equivalent number of times as 500 single-use plastic bags.

A Melkbosstrand woman has turned idle time into a simple project to save the environment.

Serena Hall belongs to a group of women making bags out of old fabric, such as bedsheets or curtains.

The recycled “Morsbags” are handed out for free to replace plastic bags.

The bags were started in the UK by Claire Morsman, according to Ms Hall, who has been making them for the past five years.

Ms Morsman, while on holiday in France several years ago, saw a whale that had washed up dead on the beach – an apparent victim of plastic consumption.

The creature’s death inspired Ms Morsman to make the recycled fabric bags.

A picture of the whale’s stomach contents can be found on the Morsbag website. Among them are several supermarket plastic bags and food wrappers.

“The project grew by word of mouth. There is no money involved besides the cost of the labels,” said Ms Hall.

Printing the Morsbag labels in the UK costs less than a rand, but in South Africa it is more pricey, so, Ms Hall gets her daughter to pack labels into her suitcase when she visits. The labels are necessary to promote the project, said Ms Hall.

Ms Hall moved to South Africa from the UK last year with her husband who had relocated for work. In England, Ms Hall, who used to work, managed to make between 20 to 30 bags a month. Now she churns out 70 to 80.

“I’m not allowed to work here because I don’t have a work permit, but I like to be busy,” she said.

Ms Hall has turned a small room in her Atlantic Beach Estate home into a sewing room. Her table, littered with different coloured fabrics, faces a big window, showing Table Mountain to her left and the sea to her right.

With this picturesque view and her beloved dog, Hattie, by her side, she cuts, sews and irons the Morsbags.

Groups making Morsbags are called pods and each pod has its own unique name and is registered on the website.

Ms Hall had planned to join a pod in Cape Town when she moved here but had been disappointed to find there were none.

“One was registered in Durbanville, but when I contacted them there was no reply,” said Ms Hall.

She decided to start a new pod called Western Cape Morsbags and asked people to join in her neighbourhood.

“I do quilting and met lovely ladies who sew, through that. We are about 12 ladies in our group and have made 1 540 bags so far,” she said.

The group meets once a month to count the bags and to decide where they will be handed out.

Western Cape Morsbags will host a talk, “Let’s talk a little trash”, with guest speaker Hayley Mclellan on Monday February 18, at 10am, at Koeberg Library in Merchant Walk, Duynefontein. Entry is free. Call 060 998 9723 for more information.

For more information about Western Cape Morsbags find them on Facebook. For the international website go to www.morsbags.com