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Last Friday I ventured into a Costco with a short shopping list. Toilet paper was on the list. I grabbed the Costco brand Kirkland Bath Tissue and we were out the door. It wasn't until we opened it that I discovered that every single roll was separately wrapped in PLASTIC! In the past the rolls have been individually wrapped in paper which always struck me as unnecessary but to see them wrapped in PLASTIC made me want to scream. I called Costco this morning and expressed my disgust at the "new and ocean destroying" packaging. I made it clear to them that I would NEVER purchase this product again and that I would tell my friends to boycott it until they figured out a less destructive way to package their product.
It just kills me to see plastic being used so excessively. The slogan on the side is "Safe for Septic Systems", seems to me they should add "Unsafe for Oceans and Sea Life". Grrrrrrrr
Years ago I spoke at the University of California, Davis to Ann Savageau's design classes. It was from that visit that I met my soon-to-be intern extraordinaire Carol Shu. Ann and I have stayed in touch and when she told me about her B.A.G. project last year, you know I was excited about it and wanted to support its goal to be truly global. I put Ann in touch with the founder of Conserve India, Anita.
This week I received this email from Ann:
As you know, I just returned from a fabulous two week stay in Delhi, and I credit you for introducing me to Anita and catalyzing this wonderful exchange!
The living conditions of the rag pickers are appalling: many of them belong to the Dalit, or Untouchable, caste. Anita says they are often sexually assaulted and beaten up. They have no schools or health care, and Conserve India provides both of those for about 300 employees. We visited the school and brought gifts for the children, such as soccer balls, jump ropes, toothbrushes, pencils, crayons, etc.
Our newly graduated fashion design majors, Christina Johnson and Jenna Chen will work as interns for C.I. for the next six months. It is a very exciting and a unique opportunity for them, because they will learn many aspects of the business (designing, marketing, merchandising, and pricing, to name a few). No American company of the same size would offer new graduates as much opportunity or responsibility.
I have attached a photo of us in our Indian garb, in an old bazaar in Delhi. Thank you so much for introducing me to Anita! By the way, Carol Shu will begin grad school with us in the fall, and we are so happy to have her back.
What fun to see connections blossom and grow! It is really wonderful to feel like I am a small part of a group of thoughtful committed citizens who are indeed changing the world.
Photo credit: E. Granath (age 8)
Do you ever have the experience of thinking about something and then suddenly being confronted with someone else thinking the exact same thing? That happened to me this weekend. I was contemplating the BP oil spill and the similarity between it and the continual flow of plastic debris into our oceans. Both are petroleum based. The BP spill is acute. It is visible. It is tragic.... and hopefully the problem is now no longer growing in magnitude (fingers crossed and prayers said). The 5 Gyres of swirling plastic is a slow but growing issue. It's insidious. It's harder to see and sadly it only continues to grow with little public outrage and minimal governmental or corporate concern.
So after having this discussion with my husband, I happened to catch this weeks Living on Earth episode titled: The Other Oil Spill. The episode is about reporting what the Researchers from the Sea Education Association (SEA) found on their month-long expedition into the plastic trash of the North Atlantic. The new is bad. Very bad. To quote Giora Proskurowski, an oceanographer with the SEA:
"What we proposed to do was to go far east from Bermuda where we know that plastics exist in the ocean, and try to find the eastern boundary of this region of high concentration in the ocean. And, we were hoping to see diminishing plastic concentrations, but what we actually saw, and actually our very eastern-most surface tow, was where we found the highest concentrations of plastic that have ever been observed in any of the world's oceans."
They didn't just find higher concentrations, they found 26 million pieces of plastic per square kilometer which is 10x more than ever recorded before! Aye Caramba! As explained by Giora Proskurowski, " . . .we can be 2,500 miles from land and pull out 23,000 pieces of plastic and it is our habits of one-use consumer plastics that's doing this."
We must STOP solving a temporary convenience problem with a permanent, even larger and much more difficult problem. PLEASE. If you live in California, support AB 1998. It is due to be voted on in August. Regardless of where you live, use a fabric bag, try to avoid single-use plastic (think metal water bottle and drinking fountains), and if you have a favorite product that uses plastic call, email or write and ask them to change their packaging. We have to take action and responsibility for this epic and growing situation.
NOTE: The SEA voyage mentioned in this post was the first federally-funded research expedition on plastics in the North Atlantic. (A small but hopeful sign.)
Last week The Green Bag Lady, Misses Stitches and I gave away close to 100 fabric bags in front of the two grocery stores in Gualala. As you can see, we had fun! The house is quiet after the visit... sniff sniff... but the bags (and memories) live on.
Yesterday as I drove across the bridge into the town of Gualala a man was walking the other way carrying a Green Bag Lady bag! I have seen this man walking many times before with a plastic bag. It was fabulous feeling to see the bag in action. THANKS Green Bag Lady!
On July 5th the Green Bag Lady and her family arrived from Nashville for two weeks of Summer Art Camp at the Gualala Art Center. One afternoon last week, after art camp, the 11 year old decided to make a Harmony Art commercial and this is what she came up with with absolutely NO help. I can only imagine what she will be creating when she's 15! Thanks M (and E)!
This coming Wednesday, July 14th, we will be hosting two Green Bag Lady bag giveaways in Gualala. If you live in the area, stop by the Gualala Supermarket at 4pm and the Surf Super at 5pm to get your very own FREE Green Bag Lady bag. The only catch is you have to promise to use it rather than paper or plastic.
Also, if you live in the area, our local radio station: KTDE 100.5 FM will be re-airing an interview with Teresa and me about The Green Bag Lady project this Wednesday at 5pm. I will try to get my hands on a recording and post it on this blog, if I can. Stay tuned.
We are having a great summer and hope you are too!
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.