Thursday, March 16, 2017

Creativity: One Little Thing

Writing is our work and our passion, but let’s face it: most of us can’t write all day long. Besides the necessary family, household, and job responsibilities, many authors I know have other creative outlets that feed their writing, benefit from it, and even provide inspiration. Some creative pursuits allow us to occupy our hands while our brains unravel other mysteries. Some are welcome distractions when we’ve reached a limit of time or attention.

For years, my sisters and I have made hats and donated them to homeless shelters and other charities. With a Knifty Knitter loom, I can crank out a small hat during an evening of TV watching—and not feel so guilty about watching TV. The process is so simple I can do it almost without looking.

Now I’ve found a new passion. Writing a nonfiction work-for-hire book about plastic (Take a Closer Look at Plastic) gave me a reason and an opportunity to explore how and why plastic is so harmful to our environment. A newspaper article about a group in a nearby suburb trying to do something about the problems of plastic led me to investigate what could be done in our progressive village.

Attending our local Conservation Committee meetings, I met other like-minded people who wanted to do something. We formed a group, Bring Your Bag Shorewood, with a focus on education and a Facebook page. We posted signs in local stores to remind people to bring their own shopping bags. We gave away reusable bags donated by the Conservation Committee and a grocery store. We handed out “I brought my bag!” stickers to people who remembered. With people from that nearby suburb, we started a web site to try to connect with similar groups across the state.

Now we’re embarking on our most ambitious project yet: sewing reusable shopping bags to leave in stores. People who forget theirs can borrow one and bring it back for someone else to use. We’ve joined with Boomerang Bags, which started in Australia and is rapidly spreading around the world. We’re collecting fabric donations, fundraising, and planning our first Sewing Bee.

I’m so excited about this project, which helps the planet by reducing the use of single-use shopping bags while keeping leftover and unwanted fabric (and gently used tablecloths, sheets, and clothing) out of landfills. I just made my first Boomerang Bag from hand-painted fabric donated by my neighbor. Next, we’ll add a pocket with our silk screened logo.


I love being part of a worldwide movement with women from all over the globe. I love the idea that one little thing we can all do can make a big difference in the world. And it’s giving me new ideas to write about. Hooray!
all over the world
many little things add up:
one big difference
What’s your One Little Thing?

Book Giveaways!
Peggy F. won the 2017 Childrens Writers and Illustrators Market. Congratulations, Peggy!

Be sure to enter our new giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Matt Bird’s The Secrets of Story.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Happy Poetry Friday! Robyn Hood Black has the roundup. Enjoy!

JoAnn Early Macken

14 comments:

Kay said...

Wow! I loved reading your story of how one little thing leads to another and another until a big difference is made.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thank you Kay! We're figuring things out as we go, but it sure helps to have company!

Linda B said...

It's an awesome story of one little thing started and growing, growing. I wish grocery stores would lend a hand and stop using plastic, am amazed at how many people walk out with their carts loaded with groceries, IN plastic bags.

Jane @ www.raincitylibrarian.ca said...

I've visited a few cities that have banned plastic shopping bags entirely - good on them! In my city, most grocery stores charge for plastic bags, and some donate the proceeds to environmental charities. I love your idea of helping to encourage the use of reusable bags to help cut down on plastic, which really is such a nasty product. Baby steps, perhaps, but every step forward is a step in the right direction, no matter how small!

Linda said...

Your "one little thing" is amazing because it really does make a huge difference. Thanks for inspiring the rest of us to find our own one little thing.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, everyone! Linda, studies show that charging for bags is the best way to reduce their use. Some stores around here give a small rebate on the grocery bill for people who bring their own bags, but it's not as effective. Jane, in Wisconsin and several other states, laws were passed that forbid communities from banning bags. (Grrrr!) That's one reason we focus on education. Linda, having something positive to do for the environment makes a difference in my outlook, too.

Violet Nesdoly said...

Inspirational post, Joanne!
Does stopping to color one's hair count?
Also, I'm trying to use less plastic film in the kitchen. For example, when I make our supper salads ahead, I put them in the fridge with a saucer over the filled bowls instead of that film.

michelle kogan said...

I think "one little ideas"are very important, rewarding, and accessible to so many of us. How timely your blog post is to mine JoAnne. My "one little idea" is producing a zine with art and writing, and having a good portion of the profit donated to Planned Parenthood; you can view more of it in my Poetry Friday post.

Brenda Harsham said...

Plastic bags are banned in my town. One store tried to charge for bags, but there was an outcry and people banned the store instead. Plastic bags are still best for trash, though. Those type of bags aren't banned. I like the idea of the Borrow-a-Bag initiative. Good for you for using your skills to improve the world.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

One BIG DIFFERENCE indeed, JoAnn!
Hurrah for you - and - thanks for sharing!

Alice Nine said...

"One little thing" done by many becomes big. I live in a city that bans plastic bags (paper or reusable ones only in stores) and styrofoam. I was shopping with a friend in another state and retrieving the plastic bags of groceries from the spinner by the cashier felt so foreign.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I'm tickled to hear every One Little Thing--thanks to all for letting me know! Violet, I long for a plastic-free kitchen, but that day is still a ways off! Good for you for the film substitute! Brenda, if you're able to compost food scraps, paper bags work for trash. Our community is experimenting with compost pickup--I hope it works out! The biggest issue for us is cleaning up after our dog. Those "biodegradable" pet waste bags are not perfect. All we can do is keep trying!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Such a great post all-around, JoAnn - those little things DO add up. Thanks for all the light you spread in the world, and for your wonderful words!

April Halprin Wayland said...

JA, you're a BIG inspiration! If you haven't read it, you'll like this post by Bruce Balan:
http://authorsforearthday.org/blog/?cat=67