Story by Sara Paul
If an average family uses more than 1,500 plastic bags per year, and it takes 500 years for a plastic bag to break down, then one can only do the tragic, global math to figure out that the Earth might be in trouble.
Golden Hill Elementary School’s PTA saw the scary stats, recognized the need, and simply wanted to put the environment first, particularly when it comes to educating kids.
“Seeing those facts hit home for me,” commented concerned Golden Hill PTA President Sarah Misir, who has researched that once plastic finally does break down, it doesn’t really break down, it becomes a pollutant.
Sarah and the PTA Board decided there was an opportunity to reinvigorate the environmental efforts at Golden Hill. The parent-based organization designed and distributed more than 500 burlap bags in an effort to replace harmful plastic ones.
Produced by Designs by Skip (DBS), the quality bags are made from an organic cotton-burlap blend and are lined on the inside. The Maine based company was also a proud sponsor, alongside such Florida businesses as Janet’s Quality Baked Goods.
The tote bags feature sponsor ads on one side, which essentially pay for the sack, and, on the other side, the phrase “I [heart symbol] Florida, N.Y.” with an onion replacing the heart.
PTA Mom, Marisa Neuman, owner of Busy Bee Crafts created the onion heart logo.
“You hear reduce and reuse all the time, but when you really look at these facts, it makes you think,” noted PTA Vice President Kevin Lundell.
“I feel like we have done enough damage, and the environmental efforts have taken a huge shift from the days of Styrofoam cups and tossing garbage out car windows,” said Lundell, who is proud that Golden Hill installed new water filling and recycling stations in the past two academic years.
Lundell met a DBS representative at the New York State PTA Summer Leadership Conference in Albany this past summer and was drawn to the bag idea. Upon his return, Lundell and the PTA Board met with the Florida Chamber of Commerce members to brainstorm. They secured 22 local businesses as sponsors for the bag at $100 per ad.
“In recent years, the school has gotten away from a lot of recycling in some areas, so we wanted to get kids back into this kind of thinking,” Misir said, chuckling that her children, Aiden, 11, and Everett, 5, scold her at home for not recycling.
“I want my kids to grow up thinking recycling is normal and just what you automatically do. We need to teach people to be kind to the Earth,” noted Sarah, adding that, with the adequate sponsorship, the PTA was able to give each student a free bag.
Bags were sold at $5 each at venues such as the Florida Farmer’s Market and Werner’s ACE Hardware.
The PTA is looking forward to the possibility of a spring tote, as there has been much interest in the concept.
The next Golden Hill PTA event will be Handbag Bingo on Dec. 7 at the Polish Legion of American Veterans in Pine Island.
For more information on the Golden Hill’s events and initiatives, contact Goldenhillptany@gmail.com.