HOWELL – Township officials recently heard a strong message by the Howell Environmental Commission and from middle school students that they would like to see plastic bags banned in the community.
The mayor and members of council watched a video produced by the students calling for the ban.
Environmental Commission Chairwoman Joan Osborne was among those present and said “the Howell Middle School South Project Plus students prepared a video that is being aired on the local government access channel for Howell to educate residents on the need for the ban on plastic bags.”
Danielle Gianelos, an 8th grade science teacher at the middle school, said a team of six 8th grade students met with Mayor Theresa Berger, Councilman John Bonevich, Township Attorney Joseph Clark, and Environmental Commission Chairwoman Joan Osborne late last year.
“The Recycling Infomercial was shared on January 19, 2020,” Gianelos said. The students involved in the project included: Cassidy Brennan, Brian Ye, Caitlyn Zito, Samantha Ngo, Holden Saluti, and Harrison Feldman.
“I challenged my students to tackle the problem of plastic in the environment. This group of students chose to address this from a legislative standpoint by writing a proposal to ban plastic bags in Howell Township,” Gianelos said. “The students met with the Environmental Commission to prepare.”
Gianelos added, “they presented their ordinance idea to members of our Town Council. One of the ideas that came to fruition was a student produced infomercial for the Howell Township TV station educating residents about plastic use and recycling.”
“The more people we get talking about the environment, the better. While this bag ban may or may not pass, I’m still happy that we got a conversation going in Howell Township about the dangers of plastic,” said student Brian Ye, 13.
Cassidy Brennan, 13, added, “It’s our job as the next generation of leaders to defend our environment. Our team enjoyed advocating for a single-use plastic bag ban through social media, meetings with officials, and producing a video to spread awareness about plastic pollution and recycling because not only is the topic interesting to learn about, but it feels good to know that our project is making a difference.
“The script and video were the result of months of hard work and research as to how we can make Howell a greener community. We strongly believe that a ban of plastic bags in our township is an excellent way to work towards the solution,” Cassidy added.
“We are in an environmental crisis, and if we ever want to see our children grow up, we need to do something. It took time and effort, but to get involved with our local government was what we felt was the best solution,” student Holden Saluti said.
Holden added, “If we want to save our planet, then we need to act, and I don’t mean just our team. I mean everyone needs to act. Whether it’s spreading awareness, or getting involved in local government, we need to do something about our planet being destroyed by our own hands.”
Samantha Ngo said, “We decided to tackle this widespread problem within our community, more specifically our town, in hopes of inspiring other neighboring towns to take humanity one more step towards saving our planet.
“Our belief is that banning single-use plastic bags will be beneficial to our environment. While working on this project, we met with members of our town environmental commission, as well as the town council and mayor for consultations on the legal aspect of the project. They also offered us an opportunity to create an informational video to spread awareness about the plastic problem to be aired on their website,” Ngo said.
“It was an amazing experience and opportunity and it makes me happy to know we did something to make our town a better place,” Ngo added.
Harrison Feldman said that the world has a plastic pollution problem and it is only going to get worse. “We recognized that we wanted to make a difference. We felt that the most effective way to solve this plastic problem was to eliminate plastic from polluting our waterways. The simplest way to do this is to ban plastic. With our limited time and resources, we decided to narrow our solution down to single-use plastic bags, as they are one of the main polluters in our waterways.”
Not only did the class submit its video to the township it also submitted it to the Nat Geo Tackling Plastic challenge in hopes of recognition.
“We’ve already achieved a major goal,” Feldman said. “We were able to raise awareness about this problem that will haunt us and future generations to come after us. There is still a lot more left to do. We still want to go through with banning single-use plastic bags in our town, but that would be hard to do on our own. Anybody can make change, no matter who you are,” Feldman said.
The video can be found at: drive.google.com/file/d/10qGnHEO3tWxgK8uW07KcuJIyfb_RX_XJ/view?usp=sharing