#GiavenoCannucciaFree is done!

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 ❤

From Bars to Classrooms … Evolution of a Campaign

Hello world! Hello dear readers! 😀 Finally I want to give you an update about my campaign on plastic straws. It’s been a month almost since I started and I must say I am very happy about how it evolved.
There are 60 places (bars/restaurants/pubs) and among these over half agreed to stop using plastic straws starting in January 2019. What surprised me was that some didn’t wait for January and decided to opt for paper straws immediately.
Over half means the majority: the majority of people, if given an opportunity to change and choose between going in the direction of sustainability and do good to the world, will choose that way. 😀
The minority (and I’m telling you, the campaign ain’t over yet) is reluctant to change for different reasons, let me illustrate the excuses people adopt to keep using plastic straws:

We keep them for children… if a child asks you a straw you can’t not give it to him/her
Uhm well, I even went to interview children and ask them if they really needed straws to drink. They told me they never (or very rarely) ask for one, it’s usually the adults who give it to them. Why? Two are the main reasons: 1. adults assume the child can’t drink from the glass, but it’s not true because once a child ends sucking from the bottle he transitions to drinking from the glass directly; 2. adults think that if the child has a straw he/she will less likely spill the drink and get dirty, hence the adult doesn’t need to be too careful to the child (this is called laziness). And when a child does ask you for a straw, we adults can explain them why it’s better without it. Many bar owners tell me it’s not their duty as it’s not their child. I think we should ALL participate consciously in the education of the children. I say consciously because we are still unaware of the fact that we are all indirectly educating children.

– I don’t know what are the alternatives nor where to buy them
For this matter I’ve physically found where one can order sustainable straws in Giaveno. I have also made a research of Italian online shops for paper, or biodegradable straws. When doing such a campaign it’s important to know your territory in order to aid people to change, many don’t buy online and need a local store that sells these alternatives. So keep in mind…

– Sustainable alternatives are more expensive
True!! And it’s not a bad thing I ended up thinking. Why? Because it will put you in the situation of thinking whether you need or not that thing. Is it necessary? Like really necessary? It is the beginning of asking important questions. When things are cheap we don’t question the fact that maybe we don’t need them, this means we will be more likely to produce more waste. How can you value something that hasn’t been valued from the start?

And at last you meet people who tell you there are worse things to think about and that they are older than you and have seen and understood the world, unlike you duh
Ehh these people exist and it’s ok 🙂 I learned that sometimes it’s easier to raise a wall and live in your beautifully protected garden believing outside is evil and nothing you do will change that. I learned to smile and leave those people in their garden 🙂 Why? Because you can’t change who doesn’t want to change, you can have power over people who are already on your same path or are ready to walk on it.

From bars….. to classrooms….. Marta, the owner of the Caffe’ Delle Arti, gave me the idea to include a local school. So naturally and unexpectedly a collaboration was born between the elementary/middle school, the bar, a highschool and myself. What we will create is this:
A group of highschool girls and I will create educational workshops for the children to talk about the harms of plastic materials such as straws, bags and cutlery.  The middle school is entitled to make the logo that will be chosen  through an exhibition at Marta’s bar and the winner will have the logo exposed in all the bars/restaurants/pubs of Giaveno who stopped using plastic straws.

I am also in contact with a group of women from the Association Donne Di Valle, who organise art workshops using materials we usually throw away. These women have the wisdom and the manual skills to re-use and re-make that which for most would be considered garbage!! I would like them to collect the plastic straws and use them for the workshops in the local schools.

Soooooooo it’s all moving… the project has a life of it’s own I am simply accompanying it ❤

Me Interviewed for National TV

I got interviews quite a lot about this and it’s super positive. It’s good to talk about something concrete that is being done, this way perhaps more people will get inspired to come out of their shell and act. Every drop is necessary to the ocean.