When you head to the library or bookstore this weekend with the kiddos, keep an eye out for One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon.
When Isatou is a young girl in Gambia the basket she is carrying tips and breaks. To replace it she picks up a plastic bag fluttering by in the wind. Initially she thinks the plastic bags are beautiful and convenient. When one breaks she tosses it to the ground and picks up another. She notices the bags in the dirt around her, everyone does it.
As she grows older and the plastic bags remain where they are she has a fleeing thought that they are no longer beautiful. Then she visits her grandmother to discover that one of the goats has eaten a plastic bag and died, as many others in the village have done before. Something must be done. But what?
Isatou starts by collecting a pile of the bags from the heaps along the side of the road and then brainstorms some ideas with friends. Ideas, skills, and inventiveness, collaboration and determination collide to prompt a small group of women to begin crocheting the plastic bags into durable recycled purses. Although initially met with skepticism, the purses are soon on-demand and the idea takes off.
A brilliant true story about creativity, recycling, and community. Isatou Ceesay’s work in Gambia has gained international attention, but her initial plan and the small group of women who enacted it were motivated to help their community. A great book to talk about imagination and inventiveness and so many other good attributes while also discussing helpful ways to take care of what we have.