Social Media Drives Pittsburgh Earth Day Project

Pittsburgh based KDKA news anchor Kimberly Gill tweeted about leaving Target with her purchases under her arm because she forgot her tote bag.

Tarentum,PA based “mommy blogger” Becky Willis also a Blogher blogger came face to face with how much food her family wastes when she couldn’t quickly clean the fridge out using a plastic bag.

This morning when I woke up, I went downstairs to get started on the kids’ brunch and pack my Monday lunch. I realized the fridge needed some cleaning, so I reached for a grocery bag to collect trash items. I was one step away from the pile that needs to get to the recycle bin when it hit me…the Challenge started today! It was time to think about how not to use a bag to get the trash to the trash can…this involved several trips to the trash (and thus extra burnt calories, win). The sad thing is that it made Mr. Burgher and I realize how much food we let spoil or go to waste (mostly leftovers from the kids’ meals that they let sit out way too long). Hunger is a problem, and we shouldn’t be so wasteful, but that’s another challenge to take on. One bag avoided.

Elizabeth Council Borough President Monica Douglas Glowinski is trying to remember to put a tote bag in her car by posting notes to herself on her blog.

 Gill and 10 are among those who will spend April 15 through April 21 going about their daily activities without disposable bags.  The participants are using social media to raise awareness about their day to day challenges and successes.

 “Team Donna” even uploaded a video to YouTube to get herself motivated.

NOTE: I am unable to figure out how to embed a YouTube video using BlogHer. I know this is odd, but it is true. I am open to advice. Here's the link.


The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Challenge is the brainstorm of The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, a local initiative that collects new and gently used tote bags for distribution to the region’s food pantries.  April 22, 2012 marks their one year anniversary. The challenge was organized to coincide with Earth Day.

 “Social media has been the instrument of our success,” explains Sue Kerr, project founder. “With no marketing budget, we are thrilled that our social media tools have helped us collect more than 13,000 reusable bags in our first year.”

 The project requires participants to forgo disposable bags when shopping or patronizing a restaurant.  Takeout bags, dry cleaning bags and reusing existing paper and plastic are forbidden. Participants may use their normal amount of plastic trash bags and activities related to their work lives are exempted.

 "It's a very easy, simple, way to make a positive impact on our environment.  Plus, you get style points for using a cool tote bag.  Be a trend setter,” offers environmental advocate Doug Shields for his choice to accept the challenge. “Live beautiful - re-use and recycle."

 Pledges by the local corporations have generated over 450 bags for the project. Participants are soliciting pledges a la “patrons” from The Hunger Games in a gentle twist on the hit movie and novel. The project is using the hashtag #PghToteChallenge and have nearly a half dozen blog posts from participants’ first 24 hours on the challenge. Links and “guest posts” are on the Tote Bag website.

 “Becky is an established blogger, but Monica and Tori Managan with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank have started blogs just for this project,” says Kerr. “Donna from Pennsylvania Resources Council is posting frequent updates on Facebook along with Jill Basel. It has been a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness from the moment we kicked off the Challenge.”

The Tote Bag Project has set up Challenge information on Facebook and Pinterest as well as their blog.

 The full list of participants includes:  Jill Basel – Owner, Chunky Monkey Unlimited, Slippery Rock; Lauren Daley – Reporter, Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh; Monica Douglas Glowinski – Associated Builders & Contractors, Elizabeth; Jennah Ferrara - Fundación AIUNAU and Sustainable City News, Pittsburgh; Kimberly Gill – KDKA news anchor; Dok Harris – former candidate for Mayor of Pittsburgh/SuperBakery, Pittsburgh; Tori Managan - Sustainability Fellow at Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Pittsburgh; Donna Mazza – Pennsylvania Resources Council, Pittsburgh; Doug Shields – former member of Pittsburgh City Council/environmental advocate, Pittsburgh; Becky Willis – blogger at Lil Burghers, Tarentum and Joe Wos – Executive Director at The Toonseum,Pittsburgh.


The Pgh Tote Project works in collaboration with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the East End Food Co-operative and Pennsylvania Resources Council along with 15 other organizations to collect and make the bags available to over 300 pantries in 11 counties.  Since their founding on April 22, 2011, the project has collected more than 13,000 bags. Bags can be donated through a series of permanent drop-off spots, tote bag drives or through corporate donations of PR materials. 





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