Get Inspired: Middle school students making an environmental impact

Data shows that roughly 75% of American’s waste is recyclable. Yet we only recycle about 30%, now some local middle school students are helping to change that. 

At Parras Middle School in Manhattan Beach – students take recycling very seriously. 

According to a study by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash ends up in our oceans every year. That is enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world… with five full trash bags of plastic. But it’s something these kids want to help change! 

"I love to surf at the beach and I don’t want my beach to be full of plastic. I want to have a clean ocean, and a clean beach," said student Benny Spangler.  

Every day at lunch the award-winning "Green Team" can be seen in their green vests diligently manning their stations and making sure their classmates organize trash output correctly.

"We pick up the trash and you make sure it's sorted in the right bins and all the excess gets donated to like homeless shelters or people that don't have enough food and stuff like that," said student Zachary Jackson. 

It’s all up to the kids to make sure trash and compost ends up in the right spot… so it can be properly disposed of later. It’s a leadership role that teachers hope these students will carry with them in the future.

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"In the classroom, these are the students that have so much potential for leadership, but maybe that classroom setting’s not for them. But they come out here and they get to be leaders, they get to interact with their peers, and use their energy for good, and make a difference in the world," stated Amy Beran, a teacher at Parras Middle. 

And while they’re making a difference in the classroom… it’s also inspired many of these kids to make a difference outside of it as well.

"If our middle school can change and help reduce trash and send less stuff to a landfill, then other middle schools and other schools can do the same thing, so then we will all – as a city – be a cleaner place," mentioned student June Gobbie.

"I don’t know if they realize it yet, cause they’re only in middle school… but how much this is gonna create a leader in the future, how much they’re gonna see that they’re resourceful, and that they have a lot to contribute," added Beran.

And the team has already made a huge difference. When they first started this "Green Team" program, the middle school was creating 35 landfill bags every day… now… it’s down to just five.

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