It’s time to wrap up the project on the plastic straws I set up in my home town Giaveno (read here).
I’ve been pulling it to the side not wanting to really write about it because to sit down and write meant also to reflect upon both the success and the failures. I realised what blocked me for over a month was to admit the failures and I didn’t want to measure myself with that. However the block extended to ALL my writing, so it’s time I write.
My vision of the project was a big one, also my expectations were slightly driven by my naivety. I believed that I could really convince everyone to stop using plastic straws, because to me such a change was beyond necessary for the environment. But soon I had to accept that different people have different priorities, and some people (trust me we’re still speaking of a minority thankfully!) don’t care at all about the environment and the wellbeing of the planet and its creatures. However, many people have surprised me beyond my expectations! Almost 40 bars/restaurants opted for change on a total of 60! Of those 40 who chose to stop using plastic straws, some decided to slowly get rid of all single-use plastic…
Moreover, with the Mayor Carlo Giacone we began to work on a decree to ban single-use plastic in all public offices and schools. I called the Mayor of Lampedusa (an island in South Italy) Totò Martello for some advice on how to make this happen as he was the first Mayor in Italy to ban completely all single-use plastic (to the extent that not even stores could sell it, and tourists cannot carry it). I admire his strength and the projects he’s got running on the island and I believe he is an example to follow. When I called him in October the first time I told him about my project saying that I want to try and see if this can be done without forcing people through a law. But this wise man told me from the very beginning that a decision was necessary from above: people have to be forced first and then after they need to be educated about it. So the decree we are working on here in Giaveno includes education to both the public and the owners of pubs/restaurants etc. I am thrilled!
Something I had sort of planned on doing was a cross-generation workshop on plastic pollution and possible solutions: I wanted to get 4 high-school girls to teach to elementary children. In theory I even met the right girls who are passionate about this subject and love children, I also had an entire elementary school. The problem? Organisation! My organisation. As I was doing this project I had my modelling work and I had lots of other things, I was also finishing writing my first book. So I never managed to sit down and create the teaching project. It saddened me but I did get to involve a middle school for an art competition 🙂 This idea was pitched to me by Marta C Bertola owner of the Cafè delle Arti along with two teachers of the private school Maria Ausiliatrice, Katia and Letizia who absolutely loved the idea of having children draw the official flyer of the campaign.
We decided to have multiple categories and more than one winner (although only the most voted would become the official flyer):
I was super happy to meet the artists as I found all the works so incredibly creative and original!! I didn’t mention before but the school I got involved is my old school and I found out my teacher still works there (it was pretty damn awesome to go back and see her).
So the last step was to print the flyer and distribute it to the bars and restaurants who signed up for the campaign.
Everyone chose their best option. However, I did walk into some bars only to find out the owner forgot or didn’t take it too seriously. I felt bad at first because I did believe in the word given and even in the signature they put on the papers I presented them. This was a social experiment, after all it made me think of how for some putting their signature on something is not such a big deal, perhaps it’s the same as putting a “like” on a sad post on facebook and feel relieved to the thought of having “contributed” somehow to that cause – when in reality you didn’t. Oh but who cares as long as we feel better and lighter about ourselves without actually doing something, right? That is a minority thankfully 🙂 Plus I came back to remind them LOL
I had a feeling when I started this that somehow I became a nightmare for many people, like I became that person pressing the buttons of responsibility and bringing the attention on something they did not want to think about: oh no yet another problem I need to think of!
The thing is… sooner or later we need to face these things, and in two years time single-use plastic will be banned from Europe (but why wait 2 years when we can act now?).
I think as humans we have kept our eyes and ears shut for way way waaaaay too long. Now we wake up to a nightmare and I do get it that many people still want to sleep: you know when it’s Monday morning, the alarm goes off, you turn it off and roll to the other side to keep on sleeping? I’m not ready to get up and go to work, I’m still tired, I still want 5 minutes (ahem another 5 years?? No please) . Those who did get up 30 minutes before the alarm went off, had/have the duty to start waking up the others and shake them from their dreams. Basically at times you meet the one who smiles and gets up, other times you meet the one who insults you 😛
Either way…. we won’t stop!
Overall I feel it was a good thing this one, it definitely rang a bell for many (many more than I even know, as word spread). I get messages from people telling me they stopped giving the plastic straw to their children and explained them why. I think the weakness of this whole project was the fact that I was alone doing it – ok ok besides Marta, Letizia and Katia helping on the side with the art part – so I was a little limited on expanding all my ideas. Perhaps that is what I see as a “failure”, that not all I imagined came true…
However looking back I can’t but love the surprise of how this project evolved naturally on its own, I started it and set it free to have its own life – but of course still being there as a parent, just not suffocating it with my expectations and/or fears. I had trust!
Never forget, every action counts… and adds a drop to the Ocean ❤