Plastic bags are everywhere, what can we do?

About the author: Tami Fordham joined EPA’s Seattle office in June 2001 and moved to Anchorage, Alaska to join the Alaska Operations Office in September 2003. Tami serves as the Alaska Resource Extraction Tribal Policy Advisor and is the Tribal Coordinator for Tribes in Western Alaska.

Tami standing in front of a small airplaneThe last time I was visiting with my family in Washington I learned that my parents decided to start making canvas shopping bags. They were noticing plastic bags everywhere littering the streets and hanging in the trees, you may have seen this in your local area, and so decided to start making the canvas bags to sell at their local store and to their friends. I have one of their bags and when people ask who made it, I get to proudly share their story of making a difference in the environment.

I have the great honor to work in partnership with Tribal Governments in Western Alaska along the Lower Kuskokwim River. Plastic bags are often seen throughout the tundra and so many of the communities I work with have worked to ban plastic bags in their village. The environmental programs have made canvas bags available to the tribal members in the place of plastic bags. There are many people that are now taking plastic bags and crocheting them into purses and bags that can be re-used. To find out more, check out this website. Just a few weeks ago a woman all the way from Florida called our office to find out about different re-use projects that could be done because she wanted to find projects that made a difference for the environment.

One person can make a difference, just imagine if we all made one change in how we live our lives the ripple effect it would have in our world.