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Students to Sleepy Hollow: Ban Plastic Bags

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – A group of Sleepy Hollow Middle School students want the villages of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow to just say no to plastic bags.

“They really hurt the environment,” student Jayne Knight said, adding, “People shouldn't let them stay outside. They should reuse them or just ban them completely.”

The school's Environmental Action Club , led by science teacher Michael Garguilo, have sent letters to Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell and Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray urging them to consider adopting a law banning the use of plastic bags. Students also sent a letter to Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti.

The club proposes both villages enact a law similar to one passed in Rye, which says retail stores can only provide reusable bags or recyclable paper bags to their customers. The law does not prohibit stores making reusable bags available for sale. Stores that provide plastic bags would be fined $150.

“We're hoping that they will discuss it, and they won't just be like 'Forget about it; we're not doing this,'” student Sofia Hantzaridis said.”We hope it will have a positive influence and help the law get passed.”

Students got the idea for their proposed law after viewing the documentary Bag It .  They encourage everyone to use reusable bags instead. Student Maya Evans said reusable bags were better for the environment because manufacturers don't cut down trees or use fossil fuels to make them.

Even recycling plastic bags comes at an environmental cost, Garguilo said.

“You would have to bring the plastic bags to the grocery store and then the grocery store would have to ship those to the recycling center, where they'd have to melt them using energy, reprocess them and re-ship them back to the grocery store,” he said. “By doing that entire process of shipping, you're using fossil fuels to recreate them back into bags.”

The club is participating in an energy expo that will take place at John Paulding School on February 4. They also plan to present their proposed law to village officials, but haven't worked out the details yet.

In the meantime, students are doing what they can to decrease the use of plastic bags.

The club hosted a screening for the Bag It documentary for 800 of their fellow students, giving everyone their own reusable bag. Student Dashley Rodriguez said she mentions the plastic bag problem to everyone she knows.

Most of the club members said they used some type of reusable bag.

“When I go to Walgreens or C-Town, I usually don't use a plastic bag or bring my own reusable bag or just carry it out,” Student Diego Arias said.

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