Reducing plastic: Banners at General Assembly

I’ve been thinking about how to reduce my plastic use, if for no other reason than it doesn’t biodegrade in a lifetime. (Crumbling isn’t the same.)

Because the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly is coming up, I have to wonder again about the Banner Parade — a major feature of the opening plenary session — and the poles made of PVC pipe that banner carriers use in the parade.

Because they’re cheap but unwieldy, I’ve been guilty of bringing a pole set and discarding it almost immediately, which is a waste. But PVC isn’t a great product, and besides the pole sets dip and yaw unless they’re glued (like plumbing) ahead of time.

I wrote about it two years ago, but have neither the need to come up with a solution — but thanks to Dan Harper for chiming in — or the engineering chops to makes something, I let it go. Does anyone have an idea now, if not for this GA then next? (And do I recall a suggestion that the banner parade might go “virtual”? Not a good idea, methinks.)

As for the banners themselves, I have an opinion there, too. Mainly that the best ones are graphic and easy to read from a distance. Past, but still useful, posts here and here.

Later. Oh, this is post #2400.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Scott, I think Dan’s on the right track in suggesting bamboo for the pole segments to replace the PVC pipe. Making bamboo furniture takes some curing effort, but making objects intended for short-term use is very easy. My little handsaw and I enjoy making bamboo projects. It’s light, renewable, compostable, and available across much of the U.S. I have a large supply in my backyard available for your experimentation if could someone could devise the necessary couplers (or tie really nice Japanese-style knots — now wouldn’t that be stylish!!) BTW, the PVC-pipe banner pole instructions have moved to

    I haven’t been to GA, but I saw a different banner pole design at the spring JPD conference — a much simpler one, just two uprights and a cross bar, designed for one person to carry on each side. That one could probably be made with bamboo segments. Is there any rule that only one person may carry the banner at GA?

  2. @Sue. I agree, and there’s even some opportunity to use locally significant wood, like cedar. But the thing that has to go is the banner pole design: the cantilever has to go. A T-shaped pole, held at mid-staff with the banner draping over the arm, would be easier to build and carry. (There may be no rule about two carrying a pole, but you do have to walk fast in a narrowish corridor and keeping in time might be a chore.)

  3. Yep I too vote for bamboo, which here in GA as you may well remember, is plentiful and quickly replenishes (since it’s a grass and not a tree). Or alternatively use some reclaimed or discarded wood or even PVC from a building site etc. I have a coffee table top that I have no use for, but I plan to give away on one of the freegan-type sites, you may be able to find something appropriate there.

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