Boy Bagged For Taking Eco-Unfriendly Ziploc to School

Parent Marc-Andre Lanciault accuses school of teaching 'propaganda' to children.

ByABC News
February 1, 2011, 5:20 PM

Feb. 2, 2011— -- Isabel Theoret was preparing a sandwich for her 6-year-old son's Kindergarten class one day last week, when he screamed out, "No Mommy! Not a Ziploc!"

The child, who lives with his family in the town of Laval in Quebec, explained that his teacher would exclude him from a contest to win a stuffed teddy bear if he brought an environmentally unfriendly plastic baggie to school.

"Felix explained with lots of emotion and tears in his eyes that there was a simple condition to entering the drawing: Don't use a Ziploc bag in their lunch," his father, Marc-Andre Lanciault wrote on his French-language blog, "Notre Vie" [Our Life].

"Felix reacted as if someone had slaughtered a pig for his ham sandwich," said his father, who is CEO and founder of the technology company INBOX International.

When the father questioned Felix's teacher, she responded, "You know, Mr. Lanciault, it's not very good for the environment," according to a report in Canada's National Post. "We have to take care of our planet and the bags do not decompose well."

The baggie blow-up rippled across blogs in both Canada and the United States, as critics wondered why environmental education had to be so dogmatic, especially among the youngest students.

On his blog, Lanciault accused the school of "propaganda" and wondered if the next move would be to discipline school children who wore clothes made in China.

He acknowledged children need to learn not to waste natural resources and said his wife usually puts sandwiches in Tupperware, but those containers were in the dishwasher.

Lanciault said his son had only learned to fear plastic bags.

When contacted Lanciault through Facebook, he said the family would not comment further because the story had "grown to unexpected proportions."

"Now, we have to return to our lives," he wrote in an e-mail. "We have been flooded with interview requests from everywhere. We did a few, but now it has to stop."

His blog elicited more than 70 responses, many of them chastising the school.

"I am totally against this system of competition," wrote Anne St-Martin. "It is very clear that children do not learn about the environment. All they are going to remember is how to participate in a contest to get a dog, which, at the end of the day, will end up in the garbage."

Another, Maurice, wrote, "The teachers are there to teach our children and not to educate or inculcate values. Education and transmission of values must be done at home by the family."

A mother of three, Chantal, boasted that she felt "no remorse" for using three baggies a day for her three children's lunch -- "one for the sandwich, one for the snack and one for the vegetables."

"We reuse them throughout the week," she wrote. "That's called recycling. No wasted water, no waste of time to find the right container and its lid, and the box lunch is much lighter. ... So enough is enough."

But some sided with the teacher.

"I am fully in agreement with the school," wrote Johannie. "They must learn that if we do not take care of the environment, it will not be there for much longer. How [long] does it take to wash three Tupperware [containers]?"

And others noted that both Ziploc and Tupperware are made of plastic and therefore "the environment is going to suffer the same."