The Power of Humor – #chicobags Andy Keller
Would you be willing to race into a room covered with 500 plastic bags?
Andy Keller did, and then proceeded to give a speech to hundreds of college students. The event was BIZ Talks, at CSU Chico, and Keller is an Chico successful Chico businessman. But that’s really not what he was their to talk about.
He wanted to talk about the power of failure to open your eyes.
Keller is the creator of Chico Bags, and his passion is to have each of us commit to saving the planet, avoiding single-use plastic bags everywhere we can. He believes that our planet hangs in the balance.
But the thing that launched him was losing his job. He thought he was set, like so many of us, taking care of business, paying his house payments and taking care of his family. Then the rug was pulled out from under him. While trying to figure this out, he made a trip to the dump, and he was stunned by the sheer volume of plastic that met his gaze. It was ugly, but worse than this, it was moving, bags were blowing out of the landfill and off to God knows where.
He decided that he had to do something, so he went home and made his own reusable bag, and then he decided that he needed to get his friends on board to quit using plastic, and from there a business was born.
But it’s been a uphill battle, as his business has become more successful, and more visible, Keller has gained wider attention. This is good for the cause, but it also made him a target of the wrath of the plastic bag industry.
They sued him.
He was given the choice, quit claiming that there was a plastic bag island in the Pacific, or face a interminable, multi-million dollar, company-crushing lawsuit. He was faced with the choice of backing down or going for broke.
He put it all on the line, and he went to the ocean with a supporters and researchers to document the plastic island.
But they didn’t find it, exactly.
Instead, they found something much worse. They found what experts call “plastic smog,” and it is a collection of particles that cover the surface, are suspended in the water, and blanket the bottom of the sea. These particles are constantly on the move, and they are a threat to the ecosphere.
He returned and was able to fend off the suit. But the battle is far from over.
Keller’s message was to the audience—mostly business students—that they may face failure, and that this should not cause them to quit. In the case of our environment, the cause is just too important to give up. But the lesson is also that you need to reach out and work with those who support your cause.
Andy has found power, too, in a playful spirit. It helps him keep from being discouraged, and perhaps as important, it wins his audiences’ attention and their respect. He is successful but down-to-Earth humble and real.
For my part, it makes me more resolved to use the Chico bags I have, and to give a shout out to a man who was willing to be silly, to make fun of himself for a serious purpose.
Would you wear a year’s worth of bags, could you even manage to attach that many before the suffocated you? Perhaps not. They seem to be suffocating the planet.
Do something about it and pick up a Chico Bag. Click on image to buy your own.
Thanks, Andy, for putting on a great show and allowing us to have fun while doing the right thing.