One Plastic Bag
"People thought I was too young and that women couldn't be
leaders. I took these things as challenges. I didn't call out the
problems--I called out solutions."
Every week the hubby brings home groceries from WalMart in a
slew of plastic bags. Those ubiquitous objects that take about a
gazillion years to biodegrade and endanger wildlife are one of my pet
peeves. I give mine to thrift shops, knowing that's just a short term
solution, and wish someone could find a bigger answer to this global
problem. Needless to say, I was delighted to see Miranda Paul's true
story, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the
At first plastic bags are a harmless seeming novelty in Ceesay's
traditional village. It's not long before they proliferate, tossed to
the ground when they are no longer usable.
"One plastic bag becomes two.
Then a hundred."
After awhile goats who eat the bags begin to die. There is also
pollution from burning plastic.
Ceesay decides something must be done. She collects the bags.
She and her friends find a way to craft them into an attractive and
Paul was a volunteer teacher in Gambia in 2003. She was
dismayed by the sight of heaps of garbage seemingly everywhere.
People told her about Ceesay. She was able to meet her in 2007 and
write this wonderful story with a truly happy ending.
"Today, Njau is much cleaner, the goats are healthier, and the
gardens grow better. Residents from nearby towns travel there to
learn the craft of recycling. People from around the world continue
to purchase the recycled plastic purses, and the women contribute some
of their earnings toward an empowerment center where community members
enjoy free health and literacy classes, as well as learn about the
dangers of burning plastic trash."
One Plastic Bag is not just a book to read and set aside. If
people in a traditional African village can come up with such
innovation, just imagine what our research rich society can achieve.
Parents, youth leaders, and teachers, remember how hands on relevant
projects lead to the most learning? How about encouraging the kids in
your lives to pick out trash problems that bother them and work toward
solutions? A fair to allow them to show case what they come up with?
Connections with colleges, universities, and businesses to enable the
development of viable options? As far as I see it the sky is the limit.
On a personal note, my writing class ended until the fall. I believe
all participants got a lot out of it.
A great big shout out goes out to those who tackle really big
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