Paper or cotton?
Dressed in green recycling shirts, sixth-grade students darted about in front of Truckee’s Safeway Friday afternoon, handing out reusable grocery bags and polling the community on recycling.
“I think if people see a bunch of kids doing this, it will help the community,” said Camille Hartley, 12, a student in Sue Mock’s ecology class at Alder Creek Middle School.
“If kids can do it, grown-ups can do it too,” added Diana Rosas, 11.
Mock’s students are working with Nichole Dorr, recycling coordinator for the town, who received a $10,000 grant from the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, and $5,000 from the Rohlf family to buy 3,000 organic cotton shopping bags.
The students have been responsible for learning about recycling and plastic shopping bags, creating a survey for the community about recycling, and planning the distribution of the 3,000 bags, Mock said.
“We’ve done a lot of research and found out really great facts ” 600 plastic bags are thrown away every second,” Rosas said.
What the class settled on was distributing the bags for free three different ways: at grocery stores, around their own neighborhoods, and at Earth Day, April 26 at Squaw Valley, Mock said.
But not just anybody can get a free bag, Dorr said. Recipients have to either live or work in the area, and have to fill out a survey on recycling and waste reduction topics.
“We’ll be gauging support for a plastic bag ban in Truckee,” Dorr said. “Then we will give those surveys to town council to consider.”
By keeping the bags local, Dorr said she hopes more people will see them, and become aware of them, and by surveying those receiving them, she hopes to start new waste reduction programs.
“These kids are great, they’ve been a lot of fun, and it’s been a great feeling when in the beginning when I started talking to these kids, they thought waste was somebody else’s responsibility. Now, they say, ‘we want to do this,’ or, ‘we want to do that,” Dorr said. “It’s a whole green movement and these kids are on it.”
Mock said that service projects like this have been beneficial to her students to understand the connection between what they learn and the community, and the students seem to agree.
“It’s been great, a really good feeling to help the community,” Hartley said.