Girls, along with their families, friends, and community members, will learn about the effects of plastic waste on our environment and help reduce the number of discarded single-use plastic bottles and bags. They'll do this by:
- Using and supporting the use of reusable bags (for shopping, school lunches, gym clothes, and so on)
- Refusing single-use plastic bags by either purchasing or making reusable bags and giving them to others
- Using a refillable, reusable water bottle (preferably one made of stainless steel or aluminum)
On the Register page, they'll log:
- The number of people participating in their Reduce Plastic Waste project
- The number of times a reusable bag was used and a single-use plastic bag was refused during one month
- The number of reusable bags given to others during one month
- The number of times a reusable water bottle was refilled during one month
Girls can create reusable bags from existing plastic grocery bags or items that are headed for the wastebasket or donation pile. For example, by following the steps outlined here, a treasured Girl Scout T-shirt can become a sturdy bag—a great way to show Girl Scout pride and honor all the Girl Scout environmental efforts over the last 100 years! But girls aren't limited by this design; they should feel free to search online for other creative ways to make reusable bags—or come up with some of their own!
Making a Girl Scout T-shirt reusable bag
Turn an old shirt into a reusable bag in just three steps.
Girls can use the bags they make to carry their lunches, books, and gym clothes. The bags are also great for shopping, which makes it easy to refuse single-use plastic bags. (Remember to record the number of times the bag is used during the month.) You also may want to make or purchase more reusable bags, or have local businesses donate some. Just be sure to keep track of how many bags you give out during the month.
- Turn the shirt inside out, and cut off each sleeve.
- Using a medium bowl, trace a scoop in the neckline, and cut along that line.
- Sew across the bottom hem. Turn the shirt right-side out, and it's a reusable bag!
Girl Scouts Forever Green reusable bags are available for purchase in state side Girl Scout council shops or in the Girl Scout Shop. You can find similar bags in most French supermarkets.
Girls can pick out a (preferably non-plastic) bottle or container they'll carry with them at all times and refill with tap water or another beverage when thirsty. A variety of bottles are available in stores and online; stainless-steel bottles are recommended, since they contain no Bisphenol A (BPA), an organic compound used to make many plastics that can cause various health problems. In addition, a Girl Scouts Forever Green reusable bottle is available in local Girl Scout council shops or in the Girl Scout Shop by Fall 2011.
Record the number of times bottles are refilled during the month with the "I Refilled My Water Bottle" sticker.
Review the ties to the Girl Scouts National Program Portfolio for specific Reduce Plastic Waste-related Journey activities.
- It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year per every man, woman, and child in the country.
- If everyone in the United States tied their annual consumption of plastic bags together in a giant chain, the chain would reach around the Earth's equator 776 times!
- We will update you with interesting french statistics soon!
- Every reusable bag used takes the place of 600 single-use plastic bags.
- Once used, plastic bags may last for up to 1,000 years; every single piece of plastic ever manufactured is still on the planet: in use, in landfills, as wind-blown litter on land, or as toxic contaminants in water like global river systems and oceans.
- Paper bags are not a good alternative to single-use plastic bags. Stores typically pay more for paper bags than plastic, anywhere from 5 to 23 cents per bag; these costs are then embedded in food prices, which are eventually passed on to consumers.
- Plastic pollution is found floating in all the world's oceans, everywhere from the polar region to the equator. It can take hundreds of years or more to break down, and some types never truly biodegrade at sea.
- An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and as many as 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic litter. At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of plastic marine debris.
- In the environment, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that attract toxic chemicals. These particles are ingested by wildlife on land and in the ocean, and can contaminate our food chain.
- Plastic affects human health: Harmful chemicals leached by plastics are already present in the bloodstream and tissues of nearly all of us, including newborns.
- Choose to reuse! Avoid using disposable plastic and paper bags in the first place.
- Carry reusable bags whenever and wherever you shop.
- Every second of every day in the United States, 1,000 people buy a plastic bottle of water, and every second of every day, 1,000 more throw one of those bottles away. That adds up to more than 30 billion bottles and tens of billions of dollars a year.
- Plastic bottles are produced from fossil fuels, typically natural gas and petroleum. More than 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to just bottle water.
- Most plastic bottles are not recycled, and plastic bottles and caps often end up in the ocean.
- Cleaning up plastic trash is expensive for our communities, but reusables save money and protect our planet and our health.
- If half a million Girl Scouts each recycled five plastic containers, they could save enough energy to power a compact fluorescent light bulb for 6,849 years.
- Instead of bottled water, drink good, clean tap water from a refillable bottle.
- If you don't feel comfortable drinking tap water, consider installing a filter on your faucet or getting a filtered pitcher you can keep in the refrigerator.