Guest Post: Middle School Students Work to Ban the Plastic Bag


Mike Garguilo is a passionate middle school science teacher in Sleepy Hollow, NY. He is the host of the Environmental Action Club which received the award for the environmental club of the year in Westchester County and co-writer of the Westchester County sustainability curriculum. His club is currently instrumental in the plastic bag movement in NY state and aided in the recent ban of plastic bags in Rye, NY.

(flickr | currybet)
The staff and students at Sleepy Hollow Middle School in Sleepy Hollow, NY, are committed to sustainability—doing their best to keep the school clean, beautiful and energy-efficient.

This year, the school’s Environmental Action Club (motto: “Saving the planet, one student at a time”) is targeting plastic bags and attempting to ban them from the community. Just in time for the holiday shopping season, the club hosted a “Plastic Bag Assembly” this November featuring a screening of the movie “Bag It”, a documentary outlining the economical, environmental and human health costs caused by plastic bags.

After the film, students and staff were each given reusable shopping bags courtesy of the Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown Chamber of Commerce and the Tarrytown Environmental Action Council. Over 800 reusable shopping bags have been distributed by the club to date.

Our goal for the 2011-2012 school year is to reduce the number of plastic bags used in the Sleepy Hollow/Tarrytown area. 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.

“Bag It” highlighted efforts by other municipalities and nations to reduce or eliminate this problem. The club launched a letter writing campaign to local politicians sharing their concerns about the issue and providing solutions. A nearby community, Rye, NY, recently banned plastic bags with support from the Environmental Action Club, which would like to see plastic bags leave the community forever.

To learn more about the Environmental Action Club visit their website.

Interested in limiting plastics at school and in your community? Eco-Schools USA’s consumption and waste pathway provides a variety of resources and information to help you achieve that goal.