Athens ReThink Plastics wrapped up its local campaign for a Plastic-Free July on Aug. 5 with a prize drawing at the Athens County Public Library.

The group worked with the county library system to promote the observation, which is sponsored by Sierra Club Ohio.

Earlier this summer, the group held six “sew-ins” to teach people how to create reusable shopping bags from the heavy plastic bags used for pet food and livestock feed. Sixteen volunteers used those skills to sew 550 bags that were distributed among the seven county library branches. Library patrons could take one of the bags for their own shopping, instead of using plastic bags at the store.

Each bag replaces about 700 single-use plastic bags, according to the group.

The libraries also asked patrons to write down ways they would avoid using plastic. Responders’ pledges included reducing “use of plastic water bottles,” using “less plastic purchases and plastic wrap” and, of course, “taking my new tote to the store.”

Throughout the month, library patrons could enter a raffle for prizes donated by local businesses — many of which stayed true to the spirit of the event and avoided giving plastic or single-use items (other than food, drinks or gift certificates).

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson drew 14 prize winners’ names at the Athens County Public Library on Aug. 5.

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