This Is Rutherford
Pierrepont's Green Team Collects Plastic
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Since late October Pierrepont School’s Green Team has been participating in a contest sponsored by Trex, a company that uses recycled plastic to create a number of outdoor products. Mr. Shaun Bach, Fifth Grade Teacher and the Advisor of the Pierrepont Green Team, and Green Team members asked their school community to collect unwanted plastic materials and deliver them to the school. The school that collects and turns in the most plastic to the Trex company will win a high composite performance bench for their school. Mr. Bach explained, “This was truly a community effort and we could not have done it without everyone’s donations.” This is Rutherford spoke with Mr. Bach, Mackenzie Vellis, Andrew Zaza, and Skylar Schriefer via Zoom to find out more about this amazing project.
TIR: Where did you learn about this contest?
Shaun Bach: Ms. Singer and I got the idea from Ms. Sabato. She told us that her town was participating in this contest. She explained that we could win a bench for our school. Ms. Singer and I decided that even if we did not win the bench, this would be a great project for the Green Team.
Anthony Zaza: We did a Skype last year and learned about sea turtles. We learned that they are an endangered species mostly because of plastic pollution.
McKenzie Vellis: A lot of sea turtles are eating the plastic and then dying.
TIR: What type of plastic did you collect for Trex?
AZ: We collected mostly plastic bags.
SB: One of my current students has a father that works at a beverage company. Each month, he would bring huge black garbage bags filled with stretch wrap. He was bringing over 250 pounds of plastic for our collection.
TIR: The Green Team had set a goal to collect 500 pounds of plastic, but exceeded this goal by collecting 2,248 pounds of plastic. Tell us about how the plastic was collected.
Skylar Schriefer: People put plastic into the three recycling bins we had placed around the school.
AZ: Several pounds of plastic bags were left on the front steps of the school. The bin we placed out there was very tiny compared to the number of bags.
SB: We underestimated the amount of plastic bags we were going to collect. We had a small bin and we figured maybe after people cleared out their homes of all their plastic we would not be collecting as much. Instead, we kept seeing more and more arrive.
TIR: The Green Team was responsible for weighing the plastic as well. How did this process work?
AZ: It took four people to get the bags from outside into the building.
SB: We would spend time at lunch or after school weighing the plastic.
SS: There were a lot of plastic bags outside. We would bring them in and weigh them. After we weighed them we would bring them to the attic.
SB: We set up a kind of assembly line. One student would weigh the bags with me in Mrs. Frattarola’s (School Nurse) office with her scale. Then the next group of students would carry the bags to Ms. Singer and a couple of students who would carry the bags to the attic.
TIR: What have you learned from doing this project?
MV: I’ve become more aware of how many plastic bags we use.
SB: The students became more aware of the use of plastic. The whole school was invested in this project and often said, “We are going to win!” They also realized just how much plastic would have gone into the landfills if we had not collected it.
SS: We worked well as a team. We got a lot more done than I thought we would. I also learned we use a lot of plastic.
MV: So much plastic could have been thrown away, but we recycled it instead.
The Pierrepont School Green Team and other schools across the country will learn the contest results on Earth Day, April 22nd. Although the Green Team hopes that they win the bench, they know that this was a worthwhile project that taught everyone a valuable lesson about the amount of plastic we all use and the need to recycle and reuse plastic.