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Area schools wrap up plastic recycling contest
Students gathered 6.2 tons of bottles for project
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"Buster the Brown Trasher," the state mascot in the anti-litter campaign, visits First United Methodist pre-K and kindergarten students for an ice cream social after completing the plastic bottle recycle drive. - photo by Photo provided.
Middle and high school students across the county have been hard at work for the past couple months, rounding up plastic bottles and asking friends and family to do the same as part of a national recycling effort.
Their hard work paid off when Sara Swida, executive director of Keep Liberty County Beautiful, reported schools collected 6.2 tons of plastic bottles for "Return the Warmth," the drive that took place between March 1 and May 31.
The project, sponsored by
Keep America Beautiful, Aquafina and Sam's Club, is part of the Great American Cleanup initiative and was made into a national competition to see which school could collect the most plastic
Top-ranking schools receive gift certificates and blue fleece jackets made from recycled plastic bottles. The outerwear pieces will be delivered to schools just in time for winter.
"That's why it's called Return the Warmth," Swida explained. "They turn in the plastics and the plastics become jackets."
Swida thought the project was a tangible way for kids to see that plastic can be reused instead of thrown away.
"One of the exciting things that happens with it is kids get in this mode of wanting to recycle," she said. "They get really excited about it and they want to continue recycling at home."
Liberty County solid waste director David Sapp agrees that children often make a continued impact.
"The thing that's important about having school kids involved is they're the next generation and if they learn it now they'll practice it in the future," Sapp said.
He explained if the plastics were not recycled, it could take 20 to 30 years for them to fully decompose.
Sapp also named Midway Middle and Lewis Frasier Middle Schools standouts during the drive, describing them as "very active schools in the program."
The pre-K and kindergarten program at First United Methodist Church also participated.
This is the third year schools have been involved and Swida said, "each year, it's really increased significantly," and "it spikes our overall community collection of plastics."
Results for this year will not be in until September and Swida is hoping a Liberty County school will place.
Two county schools placed in the top ten during the drive's first year.


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