Saving the earth one drink pouch at a time

Published 11:14 pm Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Some might say students at Nansemond Parkway Elementary have done enough Earth Day good deeds to last them a lifetime.

But for them, Earth Day isn’t about one day. It’s about every day.

The students at Nansemond Parkway have collected more than 8,000 drink pouches and raised more than $160 dollars since December through TerraCycle’s recycling program, which the student council voted to select as the school’s community service project for the year.

“When we were voting on our community project for the year, I was all hands for this,” said Taylor McGee, who is on student council. “I thought it’d be a good way to benefit everyone and is a good thing to do for the Earth.”

TerraCycle, a company that collects non-recyclable waste materials like drink pouches, makes eco-friendly products out of them and distributes them through major retailers.

Through their program, the school receives two cents for each item it collects and ship in.

Nationwide, more than 50,000 schools and community groups have signed up to help collect more than 25 million used pieces of packaging.

“As a teacher, I was hoping they’d want to plant a tree or a garden — something that would take a day,” said the school’s library and media specialist, Tosha Cummings. “But they really wanted to do this, and they’ve stuck with it.”

Since the program began in December, students at the school are turning in their juice pouches at lunch and some students even bring them from home.

“We collect about 500 pouches a week,” Cummings said. “That’s a lot of sugar these kids are drinking.”

After the drink pouches are collected, members from the student council take turns spending part of their day washing each drink pouch collected and boxing them up.

The end result is funds the school donates to a charity organization, less trash and pollutants in landfills and TerraCycle products, which can range from purses to yogurt cups to pencil cases.

To meet their final goal of 10,000 pouches by April 30, the students must collect approximately 2,000 more pouches.

“We’ll definitely meet our goal,” student council member Lauryn Bailey said. “Every day we wash tons of them.”

In addition to raising money, however, the project has taught them about recycling and making each day Earth Day.

“Every day to me is Earth Day,” McGee said. “Doing this helps us do the right thing every day, and it benefits charity. It helps us learn to recycle earlier in life and will help us in the long run. Even if we didn’t get money for it, I’d do it anyways instead of polluting the air and the ocean, filling up the landfills and killing animals. Recycling regularly is a better option.”