Saturday Series: An Interview with Shirley the Baglady

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By Carly Chaapel

In our new Saturday Series, we interview inspiring people that our readers have nominated. These people are working on the frontlines to improve the global food and agricultural systems. Want to nominate someone? E-mail your suggestions to Danielle Nierenberg!

Shirley Lewis as Baglady. (Photo credit: Baglady Productions)

Name: Shirley “Baglady” Lewis

Location/Affiliation: Baglady Productions

Bio: Shirley Lewis is the founder of Baglady Productions, an organization that works with schools, individuals, and the government to put sustainable behavior into action. She is most well-known for her original campaign to say “no” to plastic bags.

You have become an icon for sustainability in Northern Ireland, Britain, Canada, and Australia. What inspired your campaign for sustainability, and why did you choose to literally become a “bag lady?”

We’re not living sustainably; it’s stirringly obvious. Our future is in danger, and we need to wake up to this quickly. I became the Baglady in 2001 in my first national campaign in Australia, called the National Plastic Bag Awareness Week. I had to go to a lot of meetings, and I invented the Baglady character out of boredom. It’s a very good image because our plastic bag usage is a world problem that we must solve without waiting for governments to pass laws. It’s an easily changed habit that is also really disgusting. And it fits in very well with my work now, which is living “ASAP,” or As Sustainably As Possible.

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