Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Get Ready for the Class Pile-Up!

Tomorrow's going to be a big day because my students will bring their plastic bags for the class pile-up. In short, we need to simulate the bag donation activity at BagFest. It's going to take a team effort to tally, record, and pitch the bags into a pile. And to successfully execute this ambitious task at BagFest, we must first practice!

Why are we doing this? That's a question several people have asked me. And it's a good question to ask! Remember that statistic published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? Well, according to the EPA, the U.S. alone consumes approximately 380 billion plastic bags per year. When I first discovered that statistic, I was amazed--and perplexed--by that number. I couldn't (and I still can't) imagine what a pile of 380 billion plastic bags looks like. And not being able to visually imagine this statistic bothered me for two reasons: (1) it suggested that I wasn't comprehending what that number really means, and (2) there's no personal connection to that statistic.

To make matters worse, here's another related issue: The state of Indiana does not have facilities for plastic-bag recycling, which means that billions of plastic bags are sent to landfills, causing environmental hazards to animals and economic costs to consumers.

So I asked myself this question: Is there a way to think more personally about these 380 billion bags?

And folks, that's the real purpose behind this activity. It's for us to be able to see for ourselves how our puny, little bags add-up to a larger, real-world issue. And hopefully, by pitching our bags into this pile, we'll start to make a personal connection that inspires us to make positive changes in our community.

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