Innovation: The Bio-Degradable Seedling Bag #BeatPollution

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Innovation: The Bio-Degradable Seedling Bag #BeatPollution

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When was the last time you grew a tree? The year is about to end. Though, this is not about why you should go out and grow a tree today. The country has been through one major milestone. The plastic bag ban. Many sectors are affected by this ban. From the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry and even in our own homes. The tree seedling industry wasn’t exempted. We have been growing trees for years. Prof. Wangari Maathai made it her ‘little’ thing to make a difference on earth. Hence, our inspiration. Government institutions, as well as both large and small corporations, have set out to grow thousands of trees every year. This is part of their Corporate Social Responsibility and to also be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Tree seedlings are grown in plastic bags before they are transplanted to the earth. Let’s say as an individual you have planted 100 trees this year alone. That’s about 100 plastic bags that became trash in an instant. The perforated black seedling bag is a single-use plastic form. Once we tear through the bag to transplant the tree, that’s the end of it. Some organisations encourage participants to detach the soil from the bag. Yet, this is not always followed through. In most cases, the soil and roots are attached to the paper and would cause damage to the plant when removed incorrectly.
Thika Girls' Karibaribi

The Masterpiece

 
In essence, all these years, we have been growing trees to conserve and protect our water towers but aiding in plastic pollution. Pollution – a word regardless of where we come from, we all understand, is a situation we face everywhere whether we live in the rural or the urban areas. Livelihoods are being affected by pollution every single day in every global nation. In most cases, we contribute to landfills without us taking note and realising our impact. We expect the government to solve our waste management issues forgetting we are government ourselves. In the same way, we expect the perforated black plastic bags to eventually get to a recycling plant.
 
However, all is not lost. At the United Nations Environment Assembly held recently, innovation was one of the key issues discussed by over 7000 delegates involved to be able to Beat Pollution. We all have ideas. Few of us choose to act on these ideas. With innovation being a key component to solving environmental challenges, those who have chosen to act on their ideas will become a beacon for change and hope in helping humanity.

The Team: From Left, Ann Wangaju, Teacher Diana Ndungu, Regina Mwihaki and The Deputy Principal Mrs. Kuria

For Teacher Diana, it all started when she discovered a challenge that needed a unique idea to be solved. With the recent Ban on Plastic Bags in Kenya, the need for the seedling industry in Kenya to find alternatives from the Black Perforated bags is imminent. As an agriculture teacher at Thika Girls’ Karibaribi, and armed with a wide knowledge of natural products that can be used to make bags, she saw the need for an alternative for seedling bags. Her inspiration, she says, was from the High School Girl, Hilda Gacheri, from Tharaka Nithi who carried her belongings in a makeshift banana fiber bag when schools opened after the Plastic Bag Ban was declared.
“If you are a human being with a problem, you solve it.” – Mel Robbins
Together with her team of two amazing students and the support from the Administration, they set out to weave seedling bags from sisal and banana fiber. This was showcased in the school’s Talent show. This bag is completely bio-degradable. Planting trees will now be fully green and we will have reduced our plastic footprints. The bags can even be used as decorative pots as the fibers can be dyed and ornamented as desired. Not only will this idea benefit the environment but other sectors all together will grow, thus creating employment.

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This idea from Thika Girls’ Karibaribi is an innovative aspect we all need. As a country, the plastic bag ban has created a niche which we all can tap into and become an innovative nation. As we make a pledge to rid the world of single-use plastics, we can only hope for such an idea to grow, flourish and be well researched into to be used in large scale. Our oceans and land don’t need more plastics.
It’s not the thought that counts, it’s the action.
The new Education curriculum that will focus more skill-based knowledge, will hopefully bring out the creative aspect in children who are the leaders tomorrow. When the system is rolled out and effected as planned, we can only hope to see more workable ideas. As we seek to be more developed as a country, we should not forget our impact on the environment. We have already become a role model to nations who today want to ban plastic bags in their own countries and even go an extra mile with other forms of single-use plastics. We can also become game changers, thought leaders and innovators in an effort to beat pollution.
Let us all commit to reducing our own plastic footprint.
Do you want a seedling bag? Contact Teacher Diana, Department of Agriculture, Thika Girls’ Karibaribi rugindungu@gmail.com and mobile +254 (0) 721 392 995 or +254 (0) 703 434 536.
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Vicki Wangui

A Kenyan Conservationist who believes everyone should be well informed about our environment. Do you have a story, photography, experience, message to share? You can contact her on vicki@nyikasilika.org.
Share The Wild Side
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui
A Kenyan Conservationist who believes everyone should be well informed about our environment. Do you have a story, photography, experience, message to share? You can contact her on vicki@nyikasilika.org.

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