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Students learn importance of recycling
By Jonathan Copsey
December 16, 2015
ROSWELL, Ga. – When is a bench more than a bench? When it is made of thousands of recycled plastic bags, reducing waste.
The students of Atlanta Academy received just such a bench after winning a contest between nine North Fulton schools to see who could collect the most bags. Atlanta Academy students collected nearly one pound of bags per student to win the competition hosted by A Bag’s Life, a national organization dedicated to reducing, reusing and recycling plastic bags.
“This keeps a lot of bags out of landfills,” said Randy Ziffer, who works with A Bag’s Life.
According to Ziffer, the volume of household waste in the U.S. generally increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day — by about a million extra tons — according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Much of this is in the form of recyclable materials, such as wrapping and plastic bags.
For two months, students at the nine area schools took part in Ziffer’s A Bag’s Life challenge, recycling a total of 1,600 pounds of bags and wraps.
On Dec. 8, Ziffer joined with Trevor Williams of Roswell Recycling Center and Keep Roswell Beautiful to present to winning Atlanta Academy students the plastic Trex bench, made from 10,000 recycled plastic bags.
Ziffer said it is important to teach children when they are young the importance of recycling so they continue when they are adults.
“Kids at this age are so eager to learn and are just becoming aware of the environment,” she said. “If we can teach them not to litter and to recycle whenever they can, it hopefully will be a lesson that they will keep with them always. And the end result will be to keep the bags and wraps out of the landfills. We hope our ‘Don't Treat Me Like Trash’ saying will help them remember, too, so when these kids open their holiday gifts, they do a quick check with any plastic to see if it stretches. And if it does, they tell their parents to recycle it.
“When the kids go home and remind their parents to recycle their bags, it's a home run,” she said.
Williams instructed the students of Atlanta Academy on how best to sort through plastic bags, and which ones can be recycled.
Clean, stretchy bags can be recycled, she said. Black bags or those that tear cannot.
“There are a lot of bags that can be recycled, but some that can’t,” she said.
Ziffer said many major retailers – such as Publix, Kohl’s Wal-Mart and Target – will accept plastic bags to recycle.
Sponsors of the contest included The Georgia Recycling Coalition, Fulton County, Sandy Springs Recycling Center, City of Alpharetta, Trex Company and North Fulton Evergreen Schools. Keep Johns Creek Beautiful, Keep Roswell Beautiful and Keep North Fulton Beautiful, all nonprofit organizations dedicated to making their cities more beautiful through environmental projects, sponsored the competition as a way to teach students about littering.
For more about the A Bag’s Life contest, visit www.abagslife.com. For more about Keep Roswell Beautiful, go to keeproswellbeautiful.org.