Skyline High School’s Environmental Science, Ecology and Green Team has launched a new initiative.
The group, which is dedicated to helping spread awareness of environmental issues in Warren County, is selling organic, reusable grocery bags along with a children’s book about a story on the harm done to an ocean animal due to plastic waste.
“We’re trying to raise awareness about the destructive impact of our human plastic waste on our waterways and the organisms in our waterways,” said Kara Lewallen, who is the environmental science and ecology teacher at Skyline High School and the Green Team adviser.
Lewallen said the new fundraising effort called “Buy One, Give One” offers people a choice of bags — blue, yellow, or green, and one of three books.
“When they buy a book and bag for $35, they are allowing us to donate one to a Warren County kindergartner at an assembly where we’ll read the books and educate the kids about the benefits of “organic,” “fair trade,” and “reusable,” she said.
Lewallen said she helped start the Green Team to help teach her students about ways to help the planet and put those ways into action.
“We are challenged with taking what we learn about in class and doing something with it to make the world a better place for all living things,” she said. “What good is it to see what’s not working and do nothing to help?”
Lewallen said the “Buy One, Give One” project came about due to a suggestion from her class.
“I have an ‘action plan beaker’ on my desk and students add their ideas for positive change to the beaker throughout the semester,” she said. “This bag/book action project came from our wanting to prevent more plastic waste from ending up in our waters. Horrible pictures of the Pacific Ocean garbage patch can be pretty motivating.”
Lewallen said that the project had evolved several times since the beginning, including trying to apply for a grant to get money. After not receiving the grant money, the group chose to add the books with the bags and focus on kindergartners. The group was also able to get some funding from local businesses and groups, including the Front Royal-Warren County Anti-Litter Council, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and Walmart.
“We have not given up on our initial plan to give the gift to more students,” she said. “Every gift we give is another informed student, family or friend.”
Lewallen and her class started the program in mid-January, and 12 bags have been sold. She said the class’s goal is to sell 400 bags.
“We need to sell almost 400 in order to have enough to give one to each kindergartner,” she said.
Lewallen said the Green Team will continue to sell bags until the goal is met. She noted that the Green Team has other projects in the works, including raising money for recycling bins for the town and county trails, a wildlife/pollinator garden at Skyline High School, and a community Earth Day celebration on April 27.
“We hope that we can help people become aware of the issues so they, too, can make informed decisions and be beacons of change,” she said.