"People thought I was too young and that women couldn't be leaders. I took these things as challenges; they gave me more power. I didn't call out the problems. I called out the solutions." ~ Isatou Ceesay
The true story of how one woman looked at the plastic bags littered around her and came up with a way to make a difference. When Isatou Ceesay was growing up the bag she was using to carry items through her village ripped, and when she released it into the wind, she knew it would once again become part of the dirt. All around her she saw people using plastic bags and began to use them herself. Over time she noticed plastic bags on the ground, hundreds discarded by people when they were ripped or broken. As a grownup, Isatou looked around and saw the beautiful Earth with colored bags everywhere. When she finds out that farm animals have been swallowing the bags and dying she decides to act. Grabbing at first only a few bags, and then as many as she can carry, she brings them home. With the help of her friends she washes them and hangs them to dry. Once her sister teaches her to crochet Isatou and her friends begin cutting the discarded bags into long strips and they crochet them into bags. People laugh at them and call them names. But, when they bring the bags to the market place they begin to sell. Isatou earns money and the garbage piles continue to shrink.
The bright colors and textured illustrations really draw in the reader. My sister, Margo, was fascinated by the pictures. The crinkled plastic bags and the scenes really popped on the pages. I loved seeing how Isatou saw a problem and instead of complaining, she decided to make a change. The change started with her, but her friends helped and together they made our planet prettier. This is something we can all do! Looking around we all see trash and things that are falling apart. It is amazing to think that if we all decide to clean up our area that eventually we will have a clean Earth. When Margo and I finished reading we walked around our yard looking for things we could clean up. Luckily, there wasn’t much, but I plan to walk around some busier areas of town with my friends and I know we will find trash that didn’t make it into the garbage or recycling bin. Who knows- maybe one of us will come up with a clever way to transform something we see!
One Plastic Bag Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia is a wonderful book for anyone who likes to learn about people who are making the world a better place. Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd and this would be a perfect book to read together to get ideas for cleaning up our planet. Books like this make you want to look around you and see how you can make a difference!
Happy reading! ~ F
Happy reading! ~ F
*Some people have wanted to see the bags and learn more about the story. Here is the website that goes with the book. You can see the pretty bags and meet Isatou. I originally didn't post a picture of the bags because I wasn't sure if it was okay with copyright laws. :)