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Lexington Students Highlight the Impact of Single-Use Plastics through Innovative Project

Much attention in the past year has been given to the proliferation of single-use plastics and their negative impacts on ecosystems everywhere. Most of this attention has focused on local and national campaigns centered on plastic drinking straws. But there is another single-use plastic that is so common most people never even give it a second thought – the plastic grocery bag.

 

The average plastic grocery bag is used for 15 minutes before it is discarded. In Lexington, plastic bags are not recyclable through curbside service. Though these bags can be recycled at Kroger, Wal-Mart, and other large retailers, and only 1-3% are.

 

Why is this such an important issue?

 

Though plastics have done much to revolutionize modern life through convenience, durability, and efficiencies, plastic waste is increasingly being found up and down the food chain. Some scientists estimate that if changes aren’t made to how much plastic we use and how it is handled, there may soon be one pound of plastic in the ocean per three pounds of fish. A very recent study found that trace amounts of plastic can now be found in human feces, indicating that plastics have inundated the food chain.

 

For a group of seven School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) Middle School students participating in this year’s Lexus Eco Challenge, a short Buzzfeed article inspired an ambitious and creative project. Instead of throwing plastic grocery bags away, or even using them again before disposal, the students have a different idea – collecting and turning the disposable plastic bags into one, sturdy reusable bag.

 

Much attention in the past year has been given to the proliferation of single-use plastics and their negative impacts on ecosystems everywhere. Most of this attention has focused on local and national campaigns centered on plastic drinking straws. But there is another single-use plastic that is so common most people never even give it a second thought – the plastic grocery bag.

 

The average plastic grocery bag is used for 15 minutes before it is discarded. In Lexington, plastic bags are not recyclable through curbside service. Though these bags can be recycled at Kroger, Wal-Mart, and other large retailers, and only 1-3% are.

 

Why is this such an important issue?

 

Though plastics have done much to revolutionize modern life through convenience, durability, and efficiencies, plastic waste is increasingly being found up and down the food chain. Some scientists estimate that if changes aren’t made to how much plastic we use and how it is handled, there may soon be one pound of plastic in the ocean per three pounds of fish. A very recent study found that trace amounts of plastic can now be found in human feces, indicating that plastics have inundated the food chain.

 

For a group of seven School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) Middle School students participating in this year’s Lexus Eco Challenge, a short Buzzfeed article inspired an ambitious and creative project. Instead of throwing plastic grocery bags away, or even using them again before disposal, the students have a different idea – collecting and turning the disposable plastic bags into one, sturdy reusable bag.

 

Sofia, the student who has made most of the bags, estimates that it takes roughly 1.5 hours to make one bag. And though the students don’t believe that this project represents a long term solution to the proliferation of single-use plastics, they do see its ultimate value as bringing people’s attention to the issue. In the short time since the project started at SCAPA Middle, the students have noticed less plastic bags in the school and in particular in the eighth grade.

 

If you’d like to see more of what the Bagstreet Boys project is up to, be sure to follow them on Instagram. If you’d like to see them in action and potentially purchase a bag, they will be at Bluegrass Greensource’s Open House on November 28th, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

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