Aquarium staff members made a post-holiday delivery to CHUM this January, bringing nearly 500 reusable shopping bags and totes for families who receive food assistance. Guests and visitors to the Aquarium donated the bags during a fall drive as part of a Bag It, Duluth, For The Love of Place initiative, to assist CHUM in finding ways to reduce plastic bag waste.
CHUM operates Duluth’s largest food shelf. The agency currently uses tens of thousands of plastic disposable bags annually to package food for its recipients. CHUM, Aquarium staff and Bag It, Duluth leaders met last summer to collaborate on ways to assist CHUM in reducing single-use plastic waste. That’s when the group developed the Reusable Bag Challenge.
First, Great Lakes Aquarium sought donations and collected bags from members of the community to deliver to CHUM. (Savers Thrift Store was the largest single contributor, donating as many as 200 bags in two months.) Those bags, being delivered on Friday, will be used in upcoming food distributions. Each time a person who receives food assistance brings a reusable bag back to pick up food from CHUM they will receive an extra food item AND be entered in a monthly drawing for free family admission to Great Lakes Aquarium. One family a month will win free Aquarium admission. The Reusable Bag Challenge will run through July.
“We connected over the notion of ‘For the Love of Place’. Our community calls Lake Superior home, and so for the love of our place, we are working to keep Lake Superior healthy for all living things,” said Samantha Smingler, Inclusion Coordinator at Great Lakes Aquarium. “After Aquarium staff learned about the number of paper and plastic bags CHUM goes through every month, we knew there was great opportunity to collaborate.”