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Students learn environmental impact of recycling

Duxbury, Vermont – June 13, 2011

It might not look like it but sewing is part of science class at Crosset Brook Middle School in Duxbury.

After a reading assignment on plastic water bottles and their negative environmental impact in the beginning of the year teacher Sarah Popowicz never expected the response she got.

"It was an eye opener," said 7th graders Caity Marino and Nina Brundage. "Everybody was like, 'Oh my gosh I can't believe that's what happens with bottled water!'"

"It all ends up in the ocean off the Gulf of Mexico and it's like four times the size of Texas," 7th grader Clayton Wells added.

"It's a really big problem with a really simple solution," Popowicz explains.

The seventh and eighth graders decided to see how many plastic bottles their school was using so they collected data and found something else along the way.

"When we were collecting the water bottles we realized, wow, there's a lot of plastic bags in the trash and we realized oh, this is also a problem and something that we could address with this project, too," Caity and Nina said.

To cut down on plastic they got a grant and handed out re-usable custom designed stainless steel bottles to their entire school and shared what they learned.

"Obviously these are reusable bottles versus plastic so it's taking the footprint of the plastic water bottles out," 7th grader Emma Jean says.

Then, they started sewing, making eco-friendly sandwich bags and snack packs.

"So when you have a peanut butter and jelly and you have all that stuff in there you just wash it with a sponge or paper towel," Clayton says.

The cloth bags have a plastic lining and fold like a paper airplane.

"They're reusable, they're cool, people like them," Clayton says.

The students found out quickly how big of a difference they could make. In just week they found 154 of the disposable bottles in the trash not being recycled. As far as sandwich bags, there are 10,000 in the trash one year.

"We haven't seen as many plastic bags in the trash downstairs, we've seen a lot of people pull these things out of their lunch box which is really good," Clayton says.

"What we're doing is actually impacting the earth and we're making a change and we can feel that we're making a change," Caity and Nina say.

A positive change for their school and for the environment.

Gina Bullard - WCAX News

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