Sleepy Hollow Middle School Students Learn about "Bag It"
By Sharon Pickett
Black Friday (and Small Business Saturday) became more environmentally friendly recently thanks to the Sleepy Hollow Middle School Environmental Action Club and their Faculty Advisor Michael Garguilo.
The club's motto is "Saving the planet, one student at a time." The staff and students are committed to sustainability, doing their best to keep the school clean, beautiful and energy-efficient. And just in time for the holiday shopping season, the club hosted a "Plastic Bag Assembly" by holding a screening of the movie "Bag It", a documentary outlining the economical, environmental and human health costs caused by plastic bags.
After the film, the students were each given a reusable shopping bag courtesy of the Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown Chamber of Commerce, the Tarrytown Environmental Action Council and Community Media on hudson.org.
"Our goal for the 2011-2012 school year is to reduce the amount of plastic bags used in the Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown area" said Garguilo. "Disposable items don't really go away. I'm sure you have heard of the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' -- a vortex of plastic litter wreaking havoc to marine life. Most of that litter comes from land based sources."
The film highlighted the efforts by other municipalities and nations to reduce or eliminate this problem. The students learned that Mexico City enacted a ban on plastic bags last summer and London is making efforts to make that city plastic bag free in time for the upcoming Olympic Games. Other countries have imposed a fee for using plastic, and have seen a dramatic drop in usage.
And closer to home, San Francisco has banned plastic bags while Austin, Boston, New Haven, Portland, Phoenix and Annapolis are considering bag bans or imposing fees.
Middle School Principal Elizabeth Lopez praised the group's efforts by saying "By using reusable bags we can offer an easy answer to a global problem. The adage 'Think Globally, Act Locally' is certainly true here. I congratulate the Environmental Action Club in their efforts to reduce plastic waste in our towns."
Garguilo added that "laws are up for vote in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow concerning the use of plastic bags and other single use disposables. Have this discussion with your parents and neighbors. Let them know that we want to say "Bag It" to plastic bags."
About the Sleepy Hollow Middle School Environmental Action Club:
Founded in 2009, the club has, among many other things, constructed a wildlife vegetable garden, created and implemented a lunch room napkin conservation program and donated money for US Jaguar Preservation.
They have created a National Wildlife Federation certified wildlife habitat on the school grounds and wrote and performed a play "Hudson River Watershed Adventure" at Shadfest and Morse Elementary School to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the Hudson River Valley. Most recently they constructed a bird observation platform and vernal pool preserve on the school grounds along the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail.
NYS Assemblymember Thomas J. Abinanti (D. 92nd District) attended the Plastic Bag Assembly and praised the students' efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags. Abinanti said "Plastic bags are a modern convenience that are fast becoming a significant environmental hazard. The recycling program we established at the County level is a good first start but not enough. We need to prevent the onslaught of plastic bags from overwhelming our communities. Kudos to these student in their efforts"
To find out more about "Bag It" go to http://bagitmovie.com/index.html
Sleepy Hollow-Tarrytown News Inc.
Community Media on Hudson