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Practical Paper Bag Making Education

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With the new plastic ban in Tanzania, alumni gathered together to extend their support towards the initiative in order to preserve the environment. Marco Marco (YES 2013, hosted by PAX in Cedar Rapids, IA) Agnes Mpanga (YES 2012, hosted by PAX in Wellington, CO), Rupati Makoi (YES 2013, hosted by CIEE in Indianapolis, IN) and Salum Toky (YES 2016, hosted by PAX in Hamilton, IN) organized a one-day training session in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania which aimed to bring together people of different genders, social classes and ages in order to learn about environmental conservation. The alumni’s first steps they wanted to take were to focus on creating awareness and educating their community on the new ban.

“Recently, our government banned the use of plastic, but this rule is of no use unless it is implemented by every citizen,” Marco Marco said.

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The group’s goal is to help incorporate the habit of using paper bags instead of plastic which will help citizens follow eco-friendly habits for life. In order to effectively implement the habit of using paper bags, the team initiated a ‘Elimu ya Mifuko ya karatasi kwa vitendo” which means “Practical paper bag making education.”

The 20 attendees got the chance to learn how to make small paper bags. The process is quite simple and can be followed in these easy steps:

  1. Cut four pieces of equal sized recycled paper. The size depends on how big you want your bag; the most common carry up to 1¼kg.
  2. Take the first piece and twist it half-way so it stretches to reach the other end. 
  3. Glue (wooden glue is preferred) the other end with the half twist. It will make a rectangular shape with a space inside. 
  4. Now here comes the tricky part: you choose which side to fold to look like an envelope. Make squares from the bottom end to make a sitting position and use little glue so it won’t get too wet. 
  5. Lastly with the opening end, fold it from the outside to the inside. 

The group says this activity doesn't take long to complete but it takes some practice. The hope is to keep cities clean and decrease plastics scattered in the streets. This habit may also drive the adjacent countries to join the movement as well.

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“To cope with the increasing demand of paper bags, providing merely an education about the negative impacts of plastic bags won’t be enough so we thought training the locals would be a good step,” Marco said. “This paper bag making training will not only create entrepreneurs but also teaches people a new fun craft.”

Overall, the group believes they raised awareness to all of the participants about the negative effects of plastics by providing an alternate solution. The team plans to conduct another paper bag making activity with bigger reach and bigger impact.

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