When Kathi King decided to get back into the work force after successfully starting off her young ones, she decided she was going to do it her way.

“I wanted to follow my passions,” she said.

Article Image

Kathi King has started a program to give away reusable canvas bags to discourage the use of disposable plastic bags. (Miranda King photo)

So the former TV producer took two of the things she loved the most: environmentalism and education. The result? A program that will have the next generation of local consumers — and their parents — leading a greener lifestyle.

The premise is simple: Give away reusable bags to discourage the use of disposable plastic bags.

“The most astonishing thing about plastic bags is that in California about 600 plastic bags are being thrown away a second,” she said. King is quick with her plastic facts, such as the ones from her presentations that say the oil used in the production of plastic bags in California every year amounts to 3 million barrels. Or that the average customer uses 700 bags a year.

Those kinds of presentations are what have the cities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Goleta reconsidering the role plastic bags should be playing in the community, given ocean pollution, oil and the Tajiguas landfill. The presentations started out as a project for environmental studies classes, but after school ended she decided to keep the momentum going.

Luckily, the force was with her. She landed a grant that allowed her to procure the bags, the Center for Sustainability at Santa Barbara City College gave the program a home and surfwear designer Shawn Stussy agreed to design a logo for King’s Choose to Reuse program, which is working in conjunction with the Community Environmental Council, where she works.

“It was kind of a perfect storm of opportunity,” she said.

Her target audience this fall as she launches her bag giveaway won’t be the local mothers and fathers, but the children. “They are a very good audience,” she said.

The mother of two Montecito Union students and formerly the district’s PTA president, she tested her audience of elementary students a few months ago and found that the children really glommed on to the reusable bag project.

“I talked to a parent who said, ‘My child came home and said that we weren’t going to be using plastic bags anymore.’ They’re just so excited and enthusiastic,” she said.

According to King, it’ll be the children policing their parents as society tries to make the shift away from disposable plastics.

“They’re very influential over their parents, and it’s their generation that’s really going to have to make huge changes in their lives,” she said.

For more information on King’s program, e-mail her by clicking here. You also might be able to catch up with her at the SBCC Center for Sustainability or the Community Environmental Council.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at sfernandez@noozhawk.com.