Sewing group supports pantry

Reusable shopping bags made by the BagsEnd Sewing Group were donated to the Savanna Food Pantry. Pictured are, from left, Savanna Food Pantry representative Barry Eady, BagsEnd Sewing Group members Alescha Caldwell, Paula Thoele and Lisa Leipus, and Savanna Mayor Chris Lain.

Reusable shopping bags, based on internationally known Morsbags, recently were donated to the Savanna Food Pantry by BagsEnd Sewing Group.

Morsbags are reusable shopping bags hand sewn from scrap fabric that are then given away for free. BagsEnd is a group of volunteers who meet monthly in Savanna to sew these bags from donated fabric.

The Savanna Food Pantry encourages people to bring reusable bags. In 2018, Savanna Mayor Chris Lain joined other mayors of Mississippi River towns in a pledge to reduce plastic waste. One million plastic bags are used per minute globally and hundreds of thousands end up in our waterways and oceans.

According to BagsEnd Sewing Group volunteers Paula Thoele and Lisa Leipus, when rubbish is thrown away it doesn't disappear, it is simply moved out of our sight. Scientists estimate it takes between 200 and 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade. Only 3% of the 200 million tons of plastic produced is recycled. Plastic does not biodegrade, it breaks into smaller and smaller pieces which are mistaken for food by animals.

Thoele and Leipus said that worldwide, as of 2019 over 330,000 Morsbags are in use, keeping millions of plastic bags out of the environment. Free patterns and more information about the effort are available

People can join the existing group based in Savanna, start their own group, sew on their own or with friends. People who can't sew can help in a number of ways including cutting, ironing and donating fabric.

To learn more about the local BagsEnd Sewing Group, call or text Paula Thoele at 815-541-4613 or email

“It can be hard to start a new habit, but having a Morsbag in the car or in your purse can help a person remember,” said Thoele. “Using a bag made from upcycled fabric is a positive way to reduce the hideous number of plastic bags being used and keeps textiles out of the landfill. This not only helps Savanna reach its goal of reducing plastic waste, it also keeps textiles out of landfills.”