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Classrooms across north country posed recycling challenge

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Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County is challenging kindergarten through sixth-grade classrooms across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties to compete in a recycling contest. The challenge is to collect as many plastic shopping bags and plastic film products as possible and bring them to the proper recycling destinations.

Students who collect the most plastic shopping bags and film products will win a visit from an educator and animals from the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, with each student receiving a reusable shopping bag filled with reusable goodies. Second and third places will receive the shopping bag and a visit from Recycle Man, a cereal box-masked hero with a passion for recycling.

The second annual School Plastic Bag Challenge will run through April 11. It is designed to raise awareness of the importance of recycling plastic grocery bags and plastic film products such as bread bags, produce bags, wrapping of water bottle cases, toilet paper and paper towels, and other clean and clear plastic films.

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s recycling and solid waste educator, Sayer S. Stevens, said that when people think about the importance of recycling, they often think about items such as tin and aluminum cans, plastic bottles, paper products and glass. The idea behind the campaign is to raise awareness of items people throw away daily that can be recycled.

Mr. Stevens said the Extension held the contest for the first time last year and more than 33 classrooms participated, collecting 59,000 pieces of plastic and film.

Each classroom is responsible for collecting the bags and dropping them off to be recycled at a grocery store with designated plastics recycling bins. They then are asked to send the results to Mr. Stevens. He said the plastic and film items can be shredded and reused to manufacture other products.

All classrooms, including home-schooled groups, are encouraged to participate; winners are chosen based on the average number of bags per student.

Bags must be clean and dry and should be free of food or cling wrap. Prepackaged food bags, including frozen foods and prewashed salad, plastic film that has been painted or has excessive glue and bio-based or compostable bags shouldn’t be included.

Winners will be announced by email before Earth Day, April 22.

Schools and individual classrooms interested in participating can register online by visiting pub.cce.cornell.edu.

For more information, call Mr. Stevens at 788-8450.

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