At noon on Sunday, September 9, donned in his canvas bago-suit and helmet, self-proclaimed Bagonaut Egan Sanders emerged from BIGBAG1, ending his 24 hour environmental odyssey. Bagonaut slowly descended an external ladder as the crowd of onlookers cheered. Moments later, he planted a large flag of the Earth into the ground and proclaimed, That’s one small step for Bagonaut, one giant leap for reusable shopping bags!
During the 24 hour Big Bag Event — designed to raise awareness about the dangers and wastefulness of plastic bags — over 1200 reusable shopping bags, donated by local, national, and international businesses, were distributed to people donating food. Per the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank, the recipient of the donations, a total of 4026 pounds of non-perishable food items, equaling over 16,000 servings, was collected.
Before BIGBAG1 launched on its maiden voyage on Saturday, a mysterious creature clad in plastic bags appeared before the large crowd. Stating that he was Bagonaut, and that plastic bags were actually good for the Earth, it was soon revealed that this person was actually Bagonauts arch nemesis, Plastosis Bagosis, a bad bag guy. After hearing boos and hisses from the crowd, the real Bagonaut, Egan Sanders, appeared to confront the imposter. A few heated moments followed and then Bagonaut said, Plastic isnt the enemy, it’s how we use it thats the problem. If we can all shop with reusable bags we can help the Earth right now! Bagonaut and Plastosis then shook hands while the crowd applauded.
Bagonaut proceeded to an 80 foot industrial crane where he was strapped into a harness and then raised 70 feet into the air as the crowd watched his dizzying ascent. After reaching the maximum height, he began a slow descent and unfurled a sign reading The Earth Needs Friends. Safely lowered into BIGBAG1, Bagonaut remained within it for 24 hours non-stop during the Big Bag Event in the parking lot of the Sams Club store in San Angelo, Texas.
BIGBAG1 is over eight feet tall and was constructed by the West Texas Lighthouse for the Blind — a non-profit facility providing employment for blind and visually impaired individuals in San Angelo. Their products include the reusable canvas Texas Earth Bag, www.texasearthbag.com. The Mayor of San Angelo, J.W. Lown, and Texas State Representative Drew Darby were present to officially measure and certify BIGBAG1s dimensions for a world record.
During the event, talks were given by Tom Nurre Sr., Chairman of Keep San Angelo Beautiful, and Goodfellow AFB recycling volunteer Kelly A. Bales. Musician Cindy Jordan of the Children for a Peaceful World program presented her song dedicated to Bagonaut, entitled The Earth Needs Friends. Volunteers were available for 24 hours to collect food and distribute reusable shopping bags, as well wishers brought Bagonaut water, food, and things to read.
Plastic bags begin their lives as natural gas or other petrochemical substances. According to Worldwatch Institute, factories around the world manufacture 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags per year. Although many of these bags are recyclable, each year Americans return less than one per cent and discard the rest. Once plastic bags are in the environment — whether in a landfill, a lake or ocean — it can take several hundred years for them to decompose, and they contribute toxins to the soil and water as they do. The use and disposal of plastic is becoming a pressing issue as increasing worldwide population and industrialization burden the Earths ecosystems.
The Big Bag event received generous support from a wide variety of reusable bag companies: 1 Bag at a Time, Bring Your Own Bag, ChicoBag, Earthwise Bags, Eco Bags, Eco-Logics, Envirosax, Get Hip Get Green, Globotote, Go-Again Bags, Greenkit, Green Sak, Organic Fred, The Planet Bag, See2Sea Sourcing, Smart Sac, Texas Earth Bag, and The Abe Lincoln Story. Local sponsors included: Sam’s Club, Total Sports, West Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, A Plus Sign, Company Printing, Albertsons LLC, West Texas Broadcasting, San Angelo Standard Times, Concho Rent a Tent, Wal-Mart, and Cortese Flag & Silkscreen. Volunteers for the event were from the Concho Holistic Association, Keep San Angelo Beautiful, San Angelo Friends of the Environment, and Goodfellow Air Force Base.
Bagonaut.com features tips for conserving water, saving money on your electric bill, ways to effectively reduce your use of plastic bags, and much more. Bagonaut regularly travels and gives public talks on environmental issues. Updates on the ecological adventures of Bagonaut and BIGBAG1 can be found at www.bagonaut.com. Musician Cindy Jordan commemorated the first mission of Bagonaut and BIGBAG1 on Youtube with a music video The Earth Needs Friends (www.youtube.com/watch?v=asO2b1JpViY).
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San Angelo, Texas