SEA team works hard on a mission to convert plastic into a bench

Students+for+Environmental+Action+team+recycling+project+poster+which+was+modified+from+a+Trex+poster.

Emma Hsiao

Students for Environmental Action team recycling project poster which was modified from a Trex poster.

Divya Rajan, Staff Writer

Sophomore Max Tomczak started a recycling project as part of the Students for Environmental Action team and hopes to collect 500 pounds of plastic throughout Weston as a way to improve the environment. The project has run for one month and has collected 100 pounds of plastic so far. Tomczak has partnered with a company called Trex which will turn the plastic collected into a bench for Weston.

    The motivation for Tomczak to start this project stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Over the summer, during COVID, we were collecting tons of plastic bags since Massachusetts created a ban on bringing reusable plastic bags to supermarkets. We were getting all of these bags in our house and we couldn’t do anything with them,” Tomczak explained. “The main motivation was trying to figure out a way to recycle all these bags instead of throwing them away.” 

    Science teacher and SEA team advisor Janet Kresl Moffat described the impact and importance of this project.

    “The plastic problem is huge. The amount of plastic, say, that ends up in the landscape, on the beaches, in the water is a lot. There’s always these horrible examples of camels dying from stomachs full of plastic, and turtles and whales all swallowing plastic, so the more we can keep these kinds of items out of the landscape, the better,” Kresl Moffat expressed.

    Currently, the plastic is being collected in three different locations. 

    “There’s one at the entrance of the field school. There’s one by the main entrance at the high school, and there’s one behind Brothers Market,” Tomczak stated.

    Tomczak also described the next steps once the plastic has been collected.

“If we collect 500 pounds of plastic within six months, the campaign’s until June 18, then NexTrex will have turned that plastic into a bench,” Tomczak stated. 

Specifically, the project includes certain types of plastic which can be recycled into boards for the bench.

“In this case I’m only recycling plastic bags and plastic film. If you get the 16 pack water bottles, like Poland Springs, there’s the film on that. You can recycle that in the bins, but not the plastic bottles themselves because NexTrex takes something called the high density and low density polyethylene, which is what they use to make the boards,” Tomczak mentioned. 

Additionally, Tomczak elaborated on indicators that tell if the object can be recycled. 

“It’s just important to know that in the recycling symbol if it has a 2 or a 4, then one hundred percent you can put that in the bins. If you’re not sure, if you can stretch it then you can most likely put it in, but if it’s crinkly or stiff you shouldn’t put that in because we can’t really recycle that,” Tomczak explained.

Tomczak believes that within the six month project, the goal of collecting 500 pounds of plastic can be accomplished.

    “I think it’s pretty achievable. It’s only been the first month and we already have over 100 pounds of plastic! We’re getting 10, 20, 30 sometimes pounds of plastic every week, and it’s only picking up as there’s more publicity,” Tomczak explained.

In addition to collecting the 500 pounds of plastic, the SEA team has long-term goals which they are always striving to achieve.

“Students for Environmental Action is working all the time towards increasing awareness amongst the student body about ways to be more sustainable,” Kresl Moffat stated. “In the long run, there is a lot of concern about climate change and environmental justice.”

     Tomczak joined the SEA team four months ago and has enjoyed being a part of it. 

“SEA’s great! This campaign has been a huge success and I definitely couldn’t have done it without them,” Tomczak exclaimed.