As part of Martin’s Food “Bags to Benches” Program, two new benches made from recycled plastic grocery bags and assembled by students debuted in a garden at South Carroll High School. Jodi Cook, advisor for the school’s Green Team student organization, applied to receive the benches and the group was chosen. According to Giant, who owns Martin’s Food, it takes more than 10,000 plastic bags to make one park bench. Since 1997, 1,700 benches have been donated. Giant customers are encouraged to return unused plastic bags to their local store to be recycled.
The Green Team, a student group devoted to environmental stewardship, placed the benches on an area of campus that they maintain as a meditation garden. Filled with native plant species, walkway stones and sculptures created by a student at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center, the space was designed for counseling services to use when students needed a place to cool down. CCPS Outdoor School has previously donated plants and mulch to the project. “Recycled benches help to exemplify a Green Team goal of solid waste reduction and show one way to upcycle trash into items that benefit the community,” according to a news release sent out by Carroll County Public Schools.
Cook said that members of the Green team regularly collect plastic bags in school and transport them to Martin’s and other drop-off centers for recycling. Single-use plastic bags like those that groceries come in cannot be disposed of in recycling bins in Carroll County because they can become snagged in landfill equipment and damage it. They also spend time collecting paper, cans and bottles and making sure they are recycled so that the school’s waste output is more sustainable.
Originally, the plan was to unveil the benches during Green Team’s Green Week activities this past April, but they did not arrive in time. A formal dedication will be planned for next school year, Cook said. Each day of the Green Week was a different activity. One was a nature walk, another was an agriculture day in partnership with FFA and during another Outdoor School Principal Gina Felter visited with raptors. On the final day, students participated in a day of service around the school.