POLAND – Students within the Poland Central School District are helping to raise awareness about how to properly recycle plastic film, and they’re leading by example as they’ve recycled more than 300 pounds of it in just two weeks.
The Kids Against Pollution, Poverty and Prejudice club held a contest to see which elementary grade level could collect the most plastic film. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade, and the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES elementary special education programs at Poland participated in the two-week contest.
Students came up with the idea to have boxes outside the elementary library to collect plastic film for the contest. The third grade class won the contest with 67 pounds of plastic collected, and the fourth grade class came in second with 61.25 pounds.
Altogether, 316.75 pounds of plastic film were collected and recycled.
Third-graders received blue draw-string Poland Tornadoes bags for winning the contest, which can be reused instead of using disposable plastic bags.
Here’s what some of the students had to say about why recycling is important, provided by the Poland Central School District:
WHY TO RECYCLE
If plastic film isn’t recycled, it would be in the environment for a long time, said fourth-grader Trent Hobin, 9.
“It’s going to take a long time for plastic film to disintegrate in landfills,” he said.
While discussing the recycling of plastic film, fourth-grader Amelia Guarasci, 9, started coming up with more ideas on the spot – including putting a box in the school cafeteria to collect plastic wrap, plastic zip-up bags and more and that every restaurant and store should have bins for plastic film.
“If you just throw it outside, then animals could think it’s food,” she said. “And we don’t want all of our animals going extinct from it.”
Fourth-grader Grace McOwen, 10, said she doesn’t want to let plastic film get into lakes and oceans where fish could try to eat it.
“Because they can get extinct,” she said.
Fourth-grader Ariel Pope, 9, offered some advice.
“If you find plastic film on the ground, you should pick it up, so the wild animals don’t get it,” she said.
Fourth-grader Jack Hoffman, 9, said he would have a question for anyone who doesn’t properly recycle.
“I would say, ‘What did the animals ever do to you?’” he said.
Jack brought up trash getting dumped in bodies of water and that seagulls could get caught in plastic drink holders and choke.
“I don’t think that’s very humane,” he said.
The school contest motivated many students to participate in recycling, Jack said.
“I learned that a lot of the kids in this school are very competitive,” he said.
Jack said it’s important to collect plastic film “to keep it out of landfills” and that it can be used better than to be put in the garbage and never used again.
Fourth-grader Landon Rommel, 9, offered another alternative to throwing out plastic film in some cases.
“You can reuse the bags,” he said.
Fifth-grader Emma Kraszewski, 10, said her parents use reusable bags when shopping at the Aldi supermarket because that limits the use of plastic grocery bags.
“It’s better so you can reuse them,” she said.
Fourth-grader Colin Haver, 9, added that the benefit of recycling plastic film is that it’s another way of keeping it in use instead of throwing it out.
“Because when you recycle it, it’s reused,” he said.
Fifth-grader Anthony Wilson, 11, said he thought Poland’s contest was a good idea.
“I think every school should have some kind of plastic film contest,” he said.
Fifth-grader Isabele Horan, 10, said she is looking forward to having Poland compete in the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority contest again next year.
“It gives more schools the idea to collect plastic film,” she said.
After holding its own contest, Poland is prepared for next school year’s Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority contest, Leahy said.
With this much collected in just two weeks in just elementary classrooms, it will be interesting to see how much plastic film is collected in the district with more time and involving higher grade levels, Leahy said, before playfully sending a warning to other schools in the contest.
“Watch out, Oneida and Herkimer counties, Poland is going to be competitive,” she said.
In the meantime, the KAP club continues to collect plastic film at Poland Central School District in bins outside the elementary library.
“Even though the contest is over, we can still collect plastic film, so it’s recycled,” Leahy said.