Wales: Plastic Bags for Children


Windy Road

Part of the reason I started this blog was because I got tired of the news (especially with this current election cycle), and I wanted to discover inspiring projects from around the world.  In scouring the Welsh internet for news, this mission came to the surface: The grocery store Morrisons adding 5 cents for plastic bags to raise money for children. Well, okay, maybe not “for” children, but to improve their education.  Morrisons began this to support the Save the Children scheme called FAST to help families in Cardiff.

Can I just say how weird it is for Americans that the British are always scheming away… in the US, a scheme has the connotation of something illegal, or at least something underhanded you wouldn’t shout out to the world… and yet there the British are flogging their schemes left and right.

Moving on… research in the UK shows that:

“Children suffer badly from divorce or parental break-up, and that those brought up by a single parent are more likely to do badly at school, suffer poor health, and fall into crime, addiction and poverty as adults.”

But I think we knew that, and probably didn’t need scientific research to tell us.  FAST (Families and Schools Together) is an organization aimed at bringing families and teachers together to do something about this situation. They run activities geared towards helping children improve their reading, writing and math… but with a wider mission of getting parents to become more involved in their children’s education, and bonding further with their kids. (With the current plight of extra-circular madness that some kids face today, I’m not sure if most parents need this encouragement…) As parent – children bonds improve, conflict within families are reduced, and it significantly impacts how well a child develops in school.

Nipun Metta mentioned in his TED talk that the single most indicative factor of success in a child’s education is whether or not they sit down at a dinner table as a family when they eat.

It’s great to see a grocery store helping one cause by tackling another: plastic bags.

Do you know how much of this stuff finds its way into the oceans? The Pacific Trash Vortex is a vortex of marine litter that contains exceptionally high concentrations of plastics – plastic bottles, containers and other junk – that have been trapped by the currents. That may not sound so bad… until you hear that it’s about twice the size of Texas. Ouch.

Plastic is a really bad choice for something that gets used once and thrown away.  Yes, I know you can recycle them.  I do.  But while a tiny percentage of plastic bags are recycled, the vast majority are not, and they take hundreds of years to break down.  Fortunately, there is progress being made into starch-based biodegradable bags… these take about 1/3 of the energy to produce, and unlike plastic bags, they will completely breakdown.  Sounds like a no-brainer.

Until then, use recyclable bags, or pay the grocery store for children.

Also published on Medium.

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