Students in Natasha Mayes’s grade five and six class pose with the 10,021 plastic bags gathered by Alberni Elementary students during the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Students in Natasha Mayes’s grade five and six class pose with the 10,021 plastic bags gathered by Alberni Elementary students during the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Alberni Elementary students rise to the challenge

Students collected more than 10,000 plastic bags in a week for Plastic Bag Grab Challenge

Alberni Elementary students collected more than 10,000 plastic bags over the course of a week in a challenge to help promote recycling and environmentalism in schools.

The Plastic Bag Grab Challenge is a Canada-wide challenge, where schools across the country compete to see which school can collect the most bags for recycling per student. The challenge is sponsored by Walmart, which is where the bags are collected before they are processed into plastic pellets that can be used in the production of a variety of plastic products.

Jessica Hall, the teacher-librarian at Alberni Elementary, helped to organize this event for the first year last week.

“It was kind of in conjunction with Bike to School week,” she said. “It just happened that they happened at the same time.”

Students from Natasha Mayes’s Grade 5/6 class helped Hall load up her van with plastic bags on Wednesday, June 7, which she then transported to the local Walmart.

Mayes’s class, which has 30 students, brought in about a fifth of the 10,021-bag total, with 2,039 bags.

“I’m very environmentally concerned,” said Hall. “I thought it would be a nice way to bring awareness to how much plastic we use, just by focusing on one type of plastic.”

The challenge was also an educational opportunity for the school. Hall only sees students for one half-hour block per week, but she said that classroom teachers also expanded upon lessons about recycling and the environment.

“We also learned about social media, and ways that social media can be used to promote positive endeavours,” said Hall.

On June 22, Hall will be organizing a free book fair for Alberni Elementary students. The school is still accepting donations of good quality children’s books and young adult books for this event.