Environmentalist Isatou Ceesay Larger-Than-Life at the Climate March

It’s every publisher’s dream to see a three-foot bust of the subject of one of their books paraded down the National Mall among thousands of people.

And last month, that’s exactly what happened.

A sign featuring Isatou Ceesay, the notable environmentalist featured in the 2015 picture book One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, was brought to the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC.

The sign was made by Ingrid Crepeau, a puppeteer who has made “Big Head” signs of notable people (including Mae Jemison, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Neil deGrasse Tyson) for other protest marches. So for the Climate March, Ingrid decided to create signs of people who have championed sustainability, including Isatou.

Isatou has been working to recycle plastic bags and reduce waste in The Gambia for more than 20 years. In 1997, she founded the Recycling Centre of N’Jau with four other women, and from that the Women’s Initiative Gambia (WIG) was formed. WIG helps women not only learn to recycle and reuse but also teaches financial planning.

Ingrid Crepeau’s partner in the project, Michele Valeri, found Isatou while looking for women environmentalists to feature online.

“I was so excited by her WIG collective and a few of the interviews with her on YouTube that I knew we needed her to be at the March,” Michele said.

One Plastic Bag author Miranda Paul was excited to see that Ingrid created a “Big Head” sign for Isatou.

“To see Isatou Ceesay’s likeness alongside recognized environmental heroes and activists was a hopeful sign for me—a sign that in our global world, our diverse heroes will have their legacies carried on,” Miranda said.

Want to learn more about how Isatou became an advocate for recycling and a leader in her community? Check out One Plastic Bag, written by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon.

You can also watch Isatou discuss her work with WIG in this 9-minute documentary video.