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Murray Journal

Girl Scouts work on global problem within the community

Apr 16, 2019 03:23PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

If Girl Scouts in troop 766 had their way, there wouldn’t be any plastic bags that escape out of hands on a windy day or end up flying around the landfill.

As part of their Agent of Change Junior Girl Scout Journey, these 22 fourth- and fifth-grade Murray girls identified a global problem, then come up with a local solution to help with that problem.

“We asked the girls to answer the question, ‘what can we do as a troop to make a difference?’” said Dee Heath, who is the troop co-leader along with Kathy Atkinson.

After brainstorming several ideas, they identified plastic pollution as the global issue they wanted to tackle and began a campaign to collect plastic grocery bags to aid in recycling or re-using them responsibly to keep them out of landfills.

“The girls learned that the plastic takes a long time to decompose and most grocery store bags are used for about 15 minutes before becoming trash. People don’t just use plastic bags at grocery stores, but to line their trash in their homes. They all end up at the landfill, not decomposing, and often blowing into other areas, which animals can be harmed from ingesting them or possibly get entangled in them,” Heath said.

The girls, who attend several Murray area schools, reached out to Murray School District Superintendent Jen Covington, who supported the project, and granted permission to have collection bins in the foyers of McMillan, Longview, Liberty and Viewmont elementary schools. They also have placed a collection bin at Murray library to allow patrons to recycle plastic bags as well as Christ Lutheran Church.

“The girls are committed to collecting the bags weekly and either taking them to recycle responsibility or put to re-use,” she said. 

Troop 766 didn’t stop there. Through their research, they discovered that many grocery bags and dry-cleaning bags are made of low-density polyethylene, which many community recycle programs won’t accept. So, they also wrote Rep. Marie Poulson to encourage these plastic bags be banned in Utah. 

In their letter, the girls wrote, “It is true that plastic waste can be recycled, but the percentage of plastic that is appropriately recycled is negligible. In the United States less than 10 percent of all plastic is recycled. This figure matched against the 40 percent of all plastic that is used only once and then tossed results in a huge deficit.”

Heath said that Poulson replied to the troop and even invited them to a capitol visit.

“These Girl Scouts are asking that if everyone can make one small change, together, we’d make a difference. It starts with recycling these plastic bags, but think of the impact we would have if we eliminated use of them,” Heath said, adding that because of the troop’s research and commitment, she switched to personally using re-usable biodegradable kitchen trash liners. “I’m really proud of these girls for being conscious of the environment. It’s really powerful how these Girl Scouts are being responsible and taking a stand for an issue that impacts our community and our world.”