Welcome to the first of three stories about ways Green + Frugal = Happy! We'll list the other two stories at the bottom of this one.
There's a big, giant, bag in our garage, filled with... plastic bags, the kind we used to get all the time at the supermarket, before we became enlightened enough to start carrying our own reusable bags everywhere we went. A few years ago when Cool Cities San Mateo began meeting in our shop one of their big goals was to get a law passed requiring merchants to charge ten cents for every bag a customer needed. Just ten pennies, one dime, could make people stop and think and learn new habits. Cool Cities succeeded and judging from the number of people saying "no" when we offer them a bag for a dime, and more importantly the number of people who always carry a reusable bag with them, the law is truly a success.
Way back in the day, when we first started Reach And Teach, we were speaking at a gathering of seniors (folks in their 70's and up) about our new venture and the person who invited us told us it was a bring-your-own-bag lunch, but that we shouldn't bring our own, she would provide our lunch. She'd made us delicious sandwiches, home-made cookies, and she gave us our lunch in something we'd never seen before... a ChicoBag. Andy Keller, who invented ChicoBags, is one of the people we credit with helping to educate the public about the environmental harm caused by single-use bags. He created a bag that you could always have with you, that folded up into its own attached pouch, and with the addition of a carabiner (metal loop with spring-loaded gate), allows you to attach your bag to your belt or purse so it is always handy.
June 7-15 at the San Mateo County Fair Reach And Teach will have an exhibit where we continue to educate folks about the harm done by single-use bags, plastic water bottles, and paper towels. And, in Reach And Teach style we'll recommend alternatives that are better for the environment AND your wallet. Bag Monster, a prop created by Andy Keller, will be at the fair (Craig Wiesner donning the costume or... volunteers are welcome). Why? Don't people already know the harm done by single-use bags? Not enough. Here are some startling statistics:
100 Billion Plastic Bags Used by Americans Each Year
Average 600 Bags Per Person Per Year
2.2 Billion Pounds of Fossil Fuels and 3.9 Billion Gallons of Fresh Water to Produce
Costs $4 Billion Dollars a Year (Retailers/Consumers)
Creates 1 Billion Pounds of Solid Waste and 2.7 Million Tons of C02
Takes 1,000 Years for Plastic Bag to Decompose
100,000 Sea Turtles and Other Marine Animals Die Each Year Because of Plastic Bags
There are already giant swirling garbage patches that have formed in our oceans caused by plastic bags and bottles. Whether we can clean up that mess is one question which the average person may not be able to influence, but whether we continue to create more and more of that mess is something that each of us can personally have an impact on. Our friends at Klean Kanteen support Klean Kanteen support the important work of 5 Gyres Institute. To understand the impact of plastic pollution, 5 Gyres studies the five subtropical gyres by sailing through them. Unlike other ocean conservation organizations, 5 Gyres doesn't just take scientists out into the ocean, they take artists, writers, musicians, journalists, students, teachers - anyone who will serve as a 5 Gyres Ambassador for change. The goal is to give stakeholders from all walks of life an authentic vantage from gyre central. Check out their video.
Reach And Teach is proud to work with companies like ChicoBag and Klean Kanteen, pioneers in educating the public about the harm caused by plastic bottles and bags, AND creating high-quality alternatives.
And, in case you are wondering what to do with your giant bag full of plastic bags from the bad old days before you were enlightened, most supermarkets have recycling bins for those bags. Typically, they CAN NOT go in your normal big blue bin at your house. Those bags require special handling so please find a place that truly does have the ability to get them recycled.