My name is Abby and I am a student in Grayslake, Illinois. As a seventh grader, I am required to start a C.P., which stands for culminating project. It is a two year project with a goal to better the world we live in, positively impact our environment and community and show all that we have learned in the nine years at an environmentally focused school. I chose trying to get the Village of Grayslake to ban plastic shopping bags. I wanted to do this because I love animals and I saw a picture of a sea bird with a plastic bag around its neck. I also live within a mile of a landfill and saw that on windy days, the employees put up extra fencing to catch HUNDREDS of bags. Soon, my school project led me to more information on the dangers of plastic bags, a better understanding of my government and a feel for what activism is about.
It started with research –like all projects do –and contacting other towns that have had similar bans. I wrote a research paper, as well as letters to editors of local papers and politicians. The environmental issue surrounding plastic bags is more complex than just littering and the harm they cause animals. There’s a possibility that the chemicals used to make the bags damages our soil. One day I studied my local grocery store for two hours counting how many leave just one checkout lane. There were 175 plastic bags used, some with only one item in them!
Finding out that many communities, states and countries were successfully banning the bags, I was excited. I thought it would be easy to convince my village to ban bags with numbers, pictures and examples. It would be an exciting project to convince the adults that we wanted to ban the bag! I even contacted a video producer who made an awesome video called Plastic State of Mind.
Just as I was beginning to start, it suddenly became an issue about choice. The Illinois legislature passed SB3442, a Senate bill that would bar any community from banning plastic bags, in June 2012.
I’m 12 years old and I can’t vote, so how do I fight bill SB3442? How do I get people to listen? My project just seemed to grow more difficult. Stay tuned for what happens next.
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.