St Aiden's Homeschool – Our Other Blog

June 16, 2010

From Plastic Bags to Soccer Balls #worldcup #southafrica #Eco #Recycle

In time for FIFA 2010 World Cup Soccer, hosted by South Africa

Plastic bags are so cheap to produce, sturdy, plentiful, easy to carry and store that they have captured at least 80 percent of the grocery and convenience store market since they were introduced a quarter century ago, according to the Arlington, Virginia-based American Plastics Council.

As a result, the totes are everywhere. They sit balled up and stuffed into the one that hangs from the pantry door. They line bathroom trash bins. They carry clothes to the gym. They clutter landfills. They flap from trees. They float in the breeze. They clog roadside drains. They drift on the high seas. They fill sea turtle bellies.

“The numbers are absolutely staggering,” said Vincent Cobb, an entrepreneur in Chicago, Illinois, who recently launched the Web site to educate the public about what he terms the “true costs” associated with the spread of “free” bags. He sells reusable bags as a viable solution.

According to Cobb’s data released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 on U.S. plastic bag, sack, and wrap consumption, somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Of those, millions end up in the litter stream outside of landfills—estimates range from less than one to three percent of the bags.

The American Plastics Council said the industry works with its U.S. retail customers to encourage recycling of plastic bags, which are in high demand from companies  for use in building materials.

“We also feel it is important to understand that plastic grocery bags are some of the most reused items around the house,” the spokesperson said. “Many, many bags are reused as book and lunch bags as kids head off to school, as trash can liners, and to pickup dog”s droppings off the lawn.”

But like candy wrappers, chewing gum, cigarette butts, and thousands of other pieces of junk, millions of the plastic bags end up as litter. Once in the environment, it takes months to hundreds of years for plastic bags to breakdown. As they decompose, tiny toxic bits seep into soils, lakes, rivers, and the oceans.

Plastic Fantastic

The Film and Bag Federation, a trade group within the Society of the Plastics Industry based in Washington, D.C., said the right choice between paper or plastic bags is clearly plastic.

Compared to paper grocery bags, plastic grocery bags consume 40 percent less energy, generate 80 percent less solid waste, produce 70 percent fewer atmospheric emissions, and release up to 94 percent fewer waterborne wastes, according to the federation.

Robert Bateman, president of Roplast Industries, a manufacturer of plastic bags—including reusable ones— said the economic advantage of plastic bags over paper bags has become too significant for store owners to ignore. It costs one cent for a standard plastic grocery sack, whereas a paper bag costs four cents, he said.

Adapted from:  National Geographic

These bags are known as green bags in Australia due to their relative environmental friendliness and usual (though far from universal) green colour. Green Bags and similar reusable shopping bags are commonly distributed at the point of sale by supermarkets and other retail outlets. They are intended to be reused repeatedly to replace the use of hundreds of HDPE plastic bags. Most green bags are made of 100% Non-woven Polypropylene which is recyclable but not biodegradable. Some companies claim to be making NWPP bags from recycled material, however with current manufacturing techniques this is not possible.

A reusable shopping bag, sometimes called bag for life is a type of shopping bag which can be reused several times: this is an alternative of single use paper or plastic bags. It is often made from fabric such as canvas, woven synthetic fibres, or a thick plastic that is more durable than disposable plastic bags, allowing multiple use.

Reusable shopping bags are a kind of carrier bags, which are available for sale in supermarkets and apparel shops. Reusable shopping bags requires less waste of natural resources such as oil and less emission of carbon dioxide to produce than plastic bags.

Here we teach youngsters how to make soccer balls from plastic bags.

What You’ll Need:

Plastic shopping bags, carrier bags or plastic grocery bags  are a common type of shopping bag in several countries. Most often these bags are intended for a single use to carry items from a store to a home: reuse for storage or trash (bin bags) is common. Heavier duty plastic shopping bags are suitable for multiple=

  • Old Newspaper, cloth or sponge
  • Old Plastic Shopping bags, bubblewrap and a Burlap sack if you can find one (The strong ones used to carry compost)
  • Some string, sticky tape and/or elastic bands

What to do:

  1. Start by taking your newspaper, cloth or sponge and roll it up into a ball.
  2. Take the string or elastic and tie it around the ball.
  3. Place the ball into a plastic bag and tie a knot with the two ennds.
  4. Then tie some more elastics or string around the plastic bag.
  5. Repeat step 3 a couple of times until you are happy with the size of the ball.
  6. Lastly, place the ball into the surlap Sack, if you found one, to give it a strong outside layer and then securely tie it down one last time with your strong, elastic bands and sticky tape.

Many children living in poverty love soccer, but have never played with a real soccer ball. They make them out of rags or corn husks. This boy made one out of plastic bags. World Vision’s “Get a Kick Out of Sharing” project allows you to donate new or gently used soccer balls to bring joy to these kids. Contact Mike Lane at 1-800-642-1616, ext. 2, or


Here’s AIDS orphan Paulo on how to make a Malawian soccer ball:

1. You take an old blanket.
2. Rip the blanket into strips.
3. Tie the strips together to make longer strips of fabric.
4. Weave the strips of fabric into a ball shape.
5. Wrap the ball with an old plastic bag.
6. Wrap the plastic ball with more blanket strips.
7. You will get a Malawian soccer ball.

Hmm, sounds like they could use sports equipment, too. Donations to Canterio International, the registered charity the Malawi Pangea Project is working with, here. Anyone who wants to donate supplies can contact the group via the email listed at the top of the Malawi Council’s most excellent and very active site.

Okay, not quite Jabulani, the official match ball of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – but hey, they do the job 🙂

South African Football Supporter blowing the Vuvuzela


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