ARTICLE

Grannies unite to fight global warming

100 Grannies organization wants to ban plastic bags

John and Ann Christenson of 100Grannies.org from Iowa City draw out a line of hundreds of tied-together plastic bags on the pedestrian mall in Iowa City Sunday September 9th, 2012 for the Ban the Bags Rally. Passerby were encouraged to sign a petition for banning plastic bags in the Iowa City/Coralville area. Justin Torner/Freelance)
John and Ann Christenson of 100Grannies.org from Iowa City draw out a line of hundreds of tied-together plastic bags on the pedestrian mall in Iowa City Sunday September 9th, 2012 for the Ban the Bags Rally. Passerby were encouraged to sign a petition for banning plastic bags in the Iowa City/Coralville area. Justin Torner/Freelance)

IOWA CITY — Educate. Advocate. Agitate.

That isn’t the official slogan for 100 Grannies, but in the year that’s passed since women of a certain age joined together for the benefit of the climate, they say they’ve done all three.

“I think people are impressed we’ve been able to do what we’ve done in a year,” said Barbara Schlachter, the group’s founder.

This includes forming the group, educating children and their parents about the impact of global warming during the Iowa City Arts Festival, attending protest rallies both locally and nationally — even if it meant getting arrested — and launching a local movement to ban single-use plastic bags in Iowa City.

100 Grannies began after Schlachter spent a weekend with her grandchildren and read a book about climate change. The combination of the two ignited concerns about the environment the next generation will inherit.

“Climate change is happening faster than ever,” Schlachter says. “Carbon dioxide levels have passed 390 parts per million in our atmosphere — this is the highest level in human history.”

Eliminating the use of fossil fuels would slow down this acceleration, which is why 100 Grannies support environmental initiatives dedicated to this mission, such as the plastic bag ban.

“The bags are petroleum-based,” Ann Christenson, 100 Grannies co-founder, says. “Many, many cities worldwide have banned single-use plastic bags. The entire country of Rwanda has banned plastic bags.”

Their campaign has stalled in Iowa City, but grannies aren’t abandoning the fight. They’ve talked with the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and plan to approach the Coralville City Council.

“I don’t believe climate change is a done deal,” Schlachter says. “I choose to believe the scientists who say we have a small window to turn things around, but we need to do something — now.”

Grannies have shared their message by contacting local, state and federal political leaders; participating in environmental fairs; and conversing with the public, in addition to making personal changes in their own lives that benefit the environment.

In June, 100 Grannies will host a film series/discussion at the Iowa City Senior Center. Four movies about climate change will be presented, one every Monday night throughout the month. The event is free and open to the public, with each screening beginning at 6 p.m. Schlachter hopes the event will spark a conversation — and perhaps recruit a few more members.

“It’s just good to watch something like this with others,” she says. “You just feel good knowing you aren’t the only person who has this information, who worries about the future.”

“People shouldn’t be feeling alone in their concerns,” Christenson adds. “They should know there’s a group for them.”

To date, 75 women have joined the Grannies, with more expressing interest every day. The group is strictly for women, although you don’t necessarily have to be a grandmother to belong.

“We are biologically the birth givers and the first nurturers of a child’s life,” Schlachter says.

That responsibility doesn’t end when a child is grown, nor should it, she says.

To learn more about 100 Grannies, visit their Website at www.100grannies.org.

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