Artist Talie Mau has recently instigated a community initiative involving an Enniskillen primary school and a variety of local businesses with the aim to reduce the use of plastic bags and ultimately reduce landfill while preserving the beautiful environment of Fermanagh.

Each child in the Enniskillen Integrated Primary School was invited to submit a proposed design picturing which part of our outstanding environment they particularly would like to preserve. A selection of the children’s drawings were then printed on environmentally friendly tote-bags by the Print Factory to be presented in Rooney’s Eurospar, Enniskillen, on a wooden tree which was designed and made by the Men’s Shed Fermanagh, all free of charge to support the environment and raise awareness.

Explaining how the initiative will work, Talie said: “If a customer forgets their ‘Bag for Life’ they can borrow one for their shopping and return it on their next visit to the shop. This initiative will cut down on the use of plastic bags as well as keeping our community clean and maintaining the beauty of our environment.”

“It has already sparked wider interest and I am in contact with individuals and organisations to roll this out all over Fermanagh and hopefully Northern Ireland,” she added.

Noting that there was a strong creative response from the school children, Talie shared: “We got 222 entries across all age groups and we chose 50 for the first print run but if there is more printed obviously the other designs will be printed then as well.”

“We didn’t want doom and gloom, we didn’t want pollution on them or dead fish, so we asked the children what aspect of our beautiful environment in Fermanagh they would like to preserve, what they specifically like and it was really cute. Some drew the playground that they love the most and some went into painting the earth with hands holding them. There was a variety of pictures that we got and it was amazing what the children came up with,” she added.

Talie was inspired to start the project after she seen a similar project in Germany.

“I seen images of a similar project in Germany where a class in Berlin did it but they didn’t print on the bags, they just basically made a tree in school and put random bags on it so a customer could borrow one and bring it back and then I thought, ‘hold on a second’, that would be a nice project for a drawing competition, to put the drawings by the children onto the bag,” Talie explained, adding: “So it was more exciting and a great way to involve the children of the school a bit more and make it a project that goes out of the school and into the community.”

Led by Talie, the eco-project was made possible with the help of Una O’Donnell, Eco Team Enniskillen Integrated Primary School, David Lowry, Men’s Shed Fermanagh, Aidan Cosgrove, The Print Factory and James Rooney, Rooney’s Eurospar.

Sharing why she believes an initiative like this is so important in the local community, Talie said: “I think it’s important to involve the children to start with, to think about littering, to think about the use of plastic bags.

“In Asda and Tesco people are quite good about bringing their bags but when you go to the smaller shops you’re always asked if you want a bag and I’m like, ‘don’t ask’ we want to reduce it, and so often people say, ‘sure why not’, even though they’ve got two items and their car in front. So I would like to reduce it and to make the kids aware is the first step because they’ll tell their parents, ‘we don’t need that’ or ‘we can bring a bag’ and then the next thing is to bring it into the community and get other companies involved as well and work together.”