One Plastic Bag

Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia

by Miranda Paul, Elizabeth Zunon

The inspiring true story of how one African woman began a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community.
Plastic bags are cheap and easy to use. But what happens when a bag breaks or is no longer needed? In Njau, Gambia, people simply dropped the bags and went on their way. One plastic bag became two. Then ten. Then a hundred.
The bags accumulated in ugly heaps alongside roads. Water pooled in them, bringing mosquitoes and disease. Some bags were burned, leaving behind a terrible smell. Some were buried, but they strangled gardens. They killed livestock that tried to eat them. Something had to change.
Isatou Ceesay was that change. She found a way to recycle the bags and transform her community. This inspirational true story shows how one person's actions really can make a difference in our world.

  • Lerner Publishing Group; January 2015
  • ISBN: 9781467777155
  • Available for download in secure ePub format
  • Title: One Plastic Bag
  • Author: Miranda Paul; Elizabeth Zunon (ill.)
  • Imprint: Millbrook Press ™

In The Press

"In the 1980s in the cities of Gambia, a switch from using baskets made of natural materials to non-biodegradable plastic bags led to a problem: roadsides began to be choked by ever-growing piles of plastic bags. Then the problem spread to the villages. In Njau, Gambia, a young woman named Isatou Ceesay became concerned; when she learned that these non-biodegradable objects, discarded after breakage and tears made them no longer usable, were attracting disease-bearing insects and that domestic animals often died after eating the bags, she decided to do something about it. Author Paul has written a clear and sensitive account of Ceesay and her fellow activists' ingenious solution to the plastic bag problem (they wash them, cut the bags into strips, and crochet the strips into small purses to sell in the city). Zunon's collages, with their vivid colors, elegant patterns, and varied textures—especially those from actual plastic bags—provide a beautiful and authentic entry into the story. An informative author's note, glossary, timeline, and suggestions for further reading accompany the story. This handsome presentation of grassroots environmental activism is certain to inspire young readers." —The Horn Book Magazine