Schools collect plastic bags

Published 9:40 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

For the fourth year, Suffolk’s public schools are participating an effort to keep plastic bags out of landfills.

During the next six months, the schools are encouraging students, parents and staff to bring plastic shopping bags to be recycled, rather than tossing them in the trash.

Lawren Patterson, an eighth-grader at John F. Kennedy Middle School, drops off plastic bags at the school’s recycling bin. All of Suffolk’s public schools are participating in a plastic bag recycling drive that is taking place until Earth Day.

All 20 of Suffolk public schools are teaming up with the city and Trex Co., a manufacturer of alternative decking, railing and fencing, for the recycling drive.

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“This is the first year we’ve had everyone,” said Michael Griffith, the city’s litter control coordinator.

He said the drive helps teach students the importance of recycling and encourage them to get into the habit of recycling certain items, instead of throwing them away.

“The presumption is if you teach kids young to recycle and if they are doing it at school, they are going to do it at home,” Griffith said.

The drive started Nov. 15, which is America Recycles Day, and will end on April 22, Earth Day.

Suffolk’s public schools are competing to see which can collect the most plastic bags during the drive. Whichever elementary, middle and high school collects the most bags per student by the end of the drive will get a bench made of recycled bags from Trex.

“That’s the special significance,” Griffith said.

Last year, John F. Kennedy Middle School won one of the benches, which now sits in the school’s main hallway.

Assistant Principal Roosevelt Brown said he promotes the recycling drive, because he wants to teach the students why they should recycle.

“It preserves the earth, and it teaches them about recycling and the importance of doing our part of keeping landfills as free as possible,” he said. “(The students) are our future, and if we can teach them, they will become adults and teach the same thing to their children. Everyone they are around will see the importance of recycling.”

Brown said his school has bins set up in each grade’s hallway, and there is an internal competition to see which grade can collect the most bags.

While he would love for the school to get another bench, he said, the important thing is to keep the bags out of the trash, no matter how many they collect.

“Our goal is to keep as many out of the landfills as possible,” Brown said. “We want to collect as many as we can.”