Bag Lady Shirley Lewis is in Bundaberg to encourage the community to be more aware of how their use of plastic can impact the environment.
Bag Lady Shirley Lewis is in Bundaberg to encourage the community to be more aware of how their use of plastic can impact the environment. Mike Knott

Shirley's the hero to take our pollution down to zero

SHIRLEY Lewis lives her life ASAP: As Sustainably As Possible.

While she might stand out in a crowd, she said that it's all by design to get people to notice her and the message she is trying to spread.

It's a simple one: asking people to reduce their pollution and waste products.

Bag Lady Shirley Lewis is in Bundaberg to encourage the community to be more aware of how their use of plastic can impact the environment.
Bag Lady Shirley Lewis is in Bundaberg to encourage the community to be more aware of how their use of plastic can impact the environment. Mike Knott

Ms Lewis has spent the last two weeks visiting schools around Bundaberg to educate students on the impact of plastic pollution, and lives her life in line with her message.

Ms Lewis doesn't have a car, instead using public transport and her feet to get everywhere, even giving up travelling on aeroplanes in 2006.

While in Bundaberg she was living in a semi-permanent cabin in a caravan park rather than a hotel room.

For Ms Lewis, it's all about choosing not to do things.

She chooses not to use single-use cups and utensils and not to purchase foods or items with excess packaging on them.

She uses a reusable beeswax wrap instead of cling film to cover foods and containers.

Everything is about living her life as sustainably and with as little waste as possible.

She doesn't even use a rubbish bin because of the associated bags, but it's something she said she has gotten used to.
"I've been doing this so long it's kind of painless," she said.

Bag Lady Shirley Lewis is in Bundaberg to encourage the community to be more aware of how their use of plastic can impact the environment.
Bag Lady Shirley Lewis is in Bundaberg to encourage the community to be more aware of how their use of plastic can impact the environment. Mike Knott

It's a message she's spread around the world, from Ballymena in Northern Ireland to Bundaberg.

In Australia, she's talked at schools and to politicians all the way from the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, and in Bundaberg has worked closely with Kalkie State School.

Ms Lewis works with Eco-Schools, a global movement involving around 52,000 schools and 20 million students to make working on sustainability practical and fun.

"I'm doing this for future generations," Ms Lewis said.

She said it was part of her message to translate to people just how urgently change was needed, something that started with people deciding they wanted change.

"Support the people doing it right," she said, adding that if something was going to change, it would come down to  people getting on-board.