Chana Widawski

An Ode to Plastic Bags

"I’ve used mine as boot liners, shower caps, packing protectors, gloves for picking up gross things, doggie-bags for saving food, guarantors of a dry place to sit on a wet day, and as rain gear."

Here I am, across the world, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, sitting on the floor, stapler in hand, sharing smiles with women from a local shelter, entranced by the 100,000 hand-cut sheets of recycled plastic bags fluttering all around us. We are assembling a giant 255-meter naga (a mythical water serpent), which will rise in the Siem Reap River, its purpose to call attention to environmental issues and the nonsensical use — and discarding — of plastic bags. As an activist working on domestic violence and human trafficking projects in Cambodia, I’m lucky to meet Fleur Bourgeois Smith and Seckon Leong, talented artists committed to women’s issues and also the environment. We share a deep disgust for the countless bags of plastic we spot all around the world, floating in otherwise pristine waters, dangling from beautiful trees, and clogging gutters. Everywhere.

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