How to Rid a Major City of Plastic Bags.

Via Ari Setsudo Pliskin
on Sep 9, 2010
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Plastic BagsInterdependence Project Executes Day of Action.


I entered the Interdependence Project (IDP) meeting at their Bowery location on No Impact Day with a sense of anticipation. IDP joined an initiative to rid New York City of plastic bags.  As someone who has been following them online, I was glad to see that they were hosting events on the weekend when I was visiting New York City for my sister’s birthday. As we went around the room sharing one word about how we felt, I was comforted to learn that I wasn’t the only one who felt anxious, excited and curious.


Listening to Colin
Colin and event participants

IDP hosted this event in collaboration with Colin Beavan, a.k.a. No Impact Man. Colin emphasized that it was the folks in the room who organized the day of action and not him. He stressed that we shouldn’t be attached to particular outcomes, but should pay attention to how people react to us and how we react to the experience. After he got things rolling, he handed things over to the group and left the room.

The participants included a range of experience in social service and activism. One woman who works at an alternative school considered how she could get her students involved. She wanted to win and she was eager to get out and take action instead of just talking about it. Another woman shared a wealth of experience from Green Peace organizing. My partner turned out to work in development at an old settlement house.


There was a certain vitality and freshness in the room. There was open space for everyone’s contribution. I shared some ideas from my experience canvassing against George W. Bush in 2004 and people welcomed them, even though I plopped in after they had been preparing for at least a week.

We came up with last-minute strategy tweaks to the existing plan of going out in pairs of two and requesting store clerks and managers to consider switching from automatically offering customers plastic bags to asking first if they are needed. If appropriate, we asked if the store would consider taking steps towards eliminating plastic bags altogether- a major campaign embraced by IDP.

Hitting the streets

Store Clerk
Ari and store clerk

The fear and anxiety was quickly transformed into exhilaration and with every uninterested or hostile comment, I was ready to learn, smile and move on, just like my days canvassing. The first woman we talked to (pictures) was friendly and sympathetic and invited us to leave fliers.Pamphlets


Coming back, we shared our experiences. A few people’s descriptions really reminded me of the ethos of what we call a Bearing Witness Plunge at the Zen Peacemakers. Colin noted that we developed a palpable conviviality between us.  Pictured below: No Impact Day participants including IDP organizer Patrick Groneman.   Thanks IDP!


About Ari Setsudo Pliskin

Ari Setsudo Pliskin is Zen Yogi who works to actualize the interconnectedness of life online and on the streets. While once addicted to school, Ari has balanced his geekiness with spiritual practice and time spent on society’s margins. As a staff member of the Zen Peacemakers, Ari assisted Zen Master Bernie Glassman in his teaching around the world. Ari studies Zen at the Green River Zen Center in Greenfield, MA and is an Iyengar-style yoga teacher. Ari loves comic books as well. Ari currently serves as the Executive Director of the Stone Soup Café . Connect with Ari on Facebook or Twitter: @AriPliskin.


One Response to “How to Rid a Major City of Plastic Bags.”

  1. Вопрос в теме. Возник из-за такого, что мы с мужем собирались отмечать в романтичной обстановке в ресторане ВДВОЕМ, но вот родители мужа считают, что это неплохой предлог припереться в гости и отметить у нас дома! так заявить семейное торжество. К слову, в гости они приезжают по всякому поводу и довольно часто ( для меня 2 раза в месяц- это уже часто)….лза не хватает((((
    к стате сериаллы и фильмы я качаю с Мегаполиса Pi7 причем бесплато. 🙂 можете пользоватся. Лучше чем локалка.Если канечно ссылка не нужна можете и удалить.