An Upcycled, Houston-Made Alternative to Single-Use Plastic Bags

Hi! I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. 

Bag-Free Bayous is going to add an exciting new branch! We recently got a grant of a thousand dollars from the Pollination Project to employ refugee women to sew beautiful, reusable grocery bags from up-cycled materials. The women we are working with are from Community Cloth, a nonprofit dedicated to giving refugee women an income by sewing or knitting bags, clothing, and many other things. To make sure we produce minimal waste, we are using banner material that would've gone to the landfill, and old jeans. The money we make from selling the bags will go towards making more bags, which will create a cycle.

The process for making the bags has been really fun. We started by looking at different types of bag design online. We brainstormed about the elements that people like about bags. We even made a few of our own (very) novice bags, so we would get the feel of the project, hands on! We hammered out what we hoped for in the bags with Kayla, Community Cloth's project manager. We also gave her banner materials from ReUse warehouse, as well as some old jeans. Kayla delivered the materials and our ideas to Khatera, one of the groups most experienced seamstresses. She is originally from Afghanistan. A few weeks later, Kayla came back with Khatera's prototypes. We were amazed by the beauty of the bags. They looked like they belonged at a fancy store in the Galleria. We chose the best elements of each of the prototypes to come up with two solid designs.  

We are now in the next phase of the project. We are brainstorming and testing ways we can sell the bags. We will let you know when we figure it out.

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Watch out, Capital!!!

If you read my last post, you will know that my friend and I went to the state capital to lobby against Senate Bill 103, which would prohibit local government from banning bags.  

Texas Campaign for the Environment invited us to a press conference at the Capital and invited us to a committee hearing, where we could testify for House Bill 3482, which would allow local government to have bag ordinances. So yet again, we piled in a van at 5 a.m., on April 25, and began the journey to Austin. In the car, we practiced and practiced and practiced what we were going to say for the press conference. Finally, we arrived. We strode through the magnificent doors, through the rotunda, and walked into the little room where the press conference was going to be held. It had a large wooden podium, where we would be reading our speeches, a handful of chairs and a empty place in the back where cameramen stood.

Before I knew it, the press conference started. First, Robin, the head of TCE gave her speech, then introduced us. We talked about reasons for local control on bag bans. Every city has a different reason for a ban, so the cities should be able to decide for themselves if they want a bag ban. For Houston, the reason is that plastic bags clog our gutters, which increases flooding, hurt our wildlife, hang in the trees, and overall makes our Houston uglier. The reason in Kermit, Texas is that cows consume the bags, leading them to a slow and painful death. We spoke of how when plastic bags float down the bayou, they enter the Gulf of Mexico, where sea turtles ingest them, thinking they are jellyfish. We were joined a giant cow, goat, turtle, and plant. The cow also spoke.

In the afternoon, we testified in front of a committee. We spoke again, this time in front of state representatives. 

You can read more and watch the cow testimony here:

See What a Cow Has to Say about Plastic Bags

Lobbying in the Austin capital!!

Hi there! As you know, I am Lila Mankad. I am eleven, I live near Little White Oak Bayou, and it bothers me that it's full of trash. I decided to do something about it, and with my friend Caoilin Krathaus, I started a petition to ban plastic bags in Houston. We want Houston to be known for moss hanging in it's trees, not plastic.  We have come far, and currently have about 2,500 signatures.                          

But all of this hard work could be unraveled if Senate Bill 103 passed, which would prohibit local bag ordinances. We couldn't let this bill pass unnoticed. So one early April morning, Caoilin and I, as well as our fathers, packed into the car to go lobby against Senate bill 103, and to lobby for House bill 3482, which would allow cities to have bag ordinances. We marched right into the capital, through the rotunda, and with Texas Campaign for the Environment, we lobbied in many, many offices. We met a incredible variety of people, and in every office we visited, we delivered our speech. Overall, it was a experience I will never forget. I learned so much that day that I will value for the rest of my life.

  If you want to hear  more about this story, you can click on the article below. 

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Stop-Houston-s-plastic-bag-trash-11048775.php