Recycling Beyond the Bag
How do we, as protectors of Earth, go beyond everyday recycling efforts and increase recovery and recycling rates of plastic films? Education and awareness. Ocean Bay Elementary School, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is channeling their position in their community to educate students, stakeholders, faculty, and staff about the different types of plastic films that can be recycled, how to recyle, and where. Students, faculty, and staff are already successfully participating in a county wide sustainability program supported by SMART Recycling (composting) and local solid waste authority. Green Club Leader, Elizabeth Foster, researched many awareness campaigns which would align with academic standards and build environmental literacy across Ocean Bay Elementary School's community. Trex, is leading our nation with wood alternative materials (95% recycled wood and plastic films) to make composite decking. As a partner with United States Green Building Council, joining this active awareness campaign was a super decision. Wood and plastic films that would end up in our landfill are diverted via participating local grocers to Trex Company, and manufactured into eco-friendly, and not to mention longer lasting out door decking and railing. Ocean Bay's Green Apple Day of Service made it's debut on America Recycle's Day. Over 1,000 participants pledged to recycle beyond the bag by bringing in a variety of plastic films and/or plastic bags. A social media campaign sparked interest at the beginning of the school year. Students in OBE's Green Club placed Trex created posters and collection boxes around campus. Teacher and Green Club Leader, appeared on OBE's morning show and facebook building environmental literacy across the school community. In addition to the social media campaign, fourth graders visited our local landfill! Did I mention during lunchtime teachers and students are actively participating (without being prompted) by recyling plastic films from packed and school bought lunches? By the time America Recycle's Day arrived, Ocean Bay diverted approximately 150 pounds of plastics from Horry County Solid Waste Authority Landfill. Ocean Bay's Recycle Beyond the Bag campaign is still in full swing and to this date has diverted 486 pounds of plastic films from our landfill. Thanks to Trex and their amazing program, plastic films are easily transported by volunteers to our local particpating grocer. Our goal for spreading awareness was met when parents of students asked questions about how to make more of an effort at home, not just at school. As protectors of our Earth, students, facutly, and staff have gone above and beyond our everyday recycling efforts by educating community members and providing them the oppurtunity to recycle more than plastic bottles and containers, alumuinum cans, cardboard, and paper.
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Our recycling project, "Recycling Beyond the Bag" has sparked community involvement more than our Green Club members could have imagined! Parents appreciate the five oppurtunities to bring plastic materials to an "off site" recycling center. More over, teachers and students began recycling baggies, saran wrap, and other HDPE and LDPE materials during lunch time. So far our community as recycled over 10,000 pounds of plastic materials. That means 10,000 pounds of plastic material will not go into our landfill at the beach (which is filling up fast)!