Students from Pleasantdale School have been recognized for their commitment to the environment, and for their ability to promote their efforts on social media.
The Recycling Council of Ontario announced the results and winners of its nationwide Plastic Bag Grab Challenge on Monday. Pleasantdale School earned the social media prize for Saskatchewan.
Participating schools are challenged to create awareness of plastic and plastic waste in their communities through curriculum-based resources, and their efforts are recognized through action and innovation.
Students also learn about how plastic bags are made, their position as a finite and non-renewable resource and the consequences of mismanagement at end of life.
Angela Smeltzer, who is part of the response to intervention at the school, runs the club with teacher Celeste Van de Woestyne. Smeltzer said Pleasantdale’s Recycle Team consists of 20 kids from Grades 4 and 5.
Children have the choice of whether they want to be part of the club, which meets at lunch once a week.
“Mostly we just recycle the paper and the bottles and cans … and then sometimes we do other things like this Plastic Bag Challenge,” said Smeltzer.
As part of the challenge, each classroom teacher at Pleasantdale took time to talk about the plastics problem in the oceans. The recycle team created two factual announcements to do each day of the week.
Each night they counted the bags and reported the total the next day. Pleasantdale recycled around 2,500 bags during Earth Week in April. The bags were then taken to Walmart to be recycled.
“Some of the bags we used in a unique reusing project,” said Smeltzer. “We re-stuffed our older bean bag chairs and it has worked really well.”
Smeltzer said she found out about the contest from an organization that promotes caring for the earth. She thought it would be a good way for the kids to learn.
“It’s really important for our kids to learn how to take care of the world, and that even their small actions can create a big impact, especially if you carry that out over days and weeks in their lives,” said Smeltzer.
The school posted their recycling activities on social media. They shared their gatherings after school when they counted bags, and the Grade 3 class made costumes with the bags. Students also shared the signs they made.
“Every time we did a different part of the challenge … we put it out on Twitter just to tell the world what we were doing to take care of the Earth,” said Smeltzer.
Pleasantdale has been active on social media in recent years, as it tries to connect their learning initiatives with the world, and while learning from the world through social media.
All classrooms at the school have Twitter feeds to share how students make a difference.
Thanks to the result in the challenge, Pleasantdale won $500 to put towards another recycling initiative in the school that will be announced at a later date.
“Our recycling team did not stop there and now we found out that we can recycle markers through Crayola and we will be collecting these to send away to be recycled,” said Smeltzer. “We are passionate about teaching our students at Pleasantdale how important it is to care for our amazing earth.”
This has been a great learning experience for the school, she said, and the students get excited about doing something that helps others, and sharing the information that they learn.
“It really impacts them greatly when they think they can make a change,” said Smeltzer.
As part of the 2018 Plastic Bag Grab Challenge, 210,185 students from 635 elementary schools across Canada took action on plastic waste and championed the words reduce, reuse and recycle.
In doing so, students collected 1,903,193 single-use plastic shopping bags – 15.23 metric tonnes of plastic – and brought them to local Walmart stores for recycling.
Spruce Ridge School and Oxbow Prairie Horizons School also participated in the contest.