How grade schoolers turned a pile of plastic into $3,000

Two P.E.I. schools h ave tied for first place in an environmental challenge that saw students collect tens of thousands of plastic bags for recycling.

Two schools collected almost 60,000 plastic bags

Recycling paid off big time for these Island students. (Darren Ford)

Two P.E.I. schools have tied for first place in an environmental challenge that saw students collect tens of thousands of plastic bags for recycling.

Eliot River students collected just under 100 bags per student to win top prize. And yes, they had to count each and every one of them. (Darren Ford)

Eliot River School and O'Leary Elementary School each won $3,000, tying for first place on P.E.I. for their efforts to recycle plastic bags. In all the two schools collected almost 60,000 bags.

Students collected the bags in April, but had to wait until Friday to learn the results of the national contest, called the Plastic Bag Grab Challenge.

"Everyday they were asking, 'When do we find out?' So it was quite a thrill when we got the news," said Darren Ford, a teacher at Eliot River School.

Reinvesting in the environment

Eliot River students will use the money to take on new environmental challenges.

 "A few teachers have actually been talking about maybe getting a solar power panel on top of the roof or maybe a garden of some sort," said Ford.

Eliot River students pitched in during Earth Week. (Darren Ford)

Ford said the students continue to work with the Town of Cornwall and the Terry Fox Sports Complex to improve walking trails in the community.

"If 400 students can do what we did, think what the whole community can do," said Ford.

Prize money in the fall

O'Leary Elementary School Principal Susan Thain-Trail said the school hasn't decided what to do with the money.

She did note that one possibility is new garbage cans for the playground.

"Our playground is also community-used on weekends and after school. We don't have any garbage cans out there," she said.

"So, we want some cans with a lid that will stay on."

Eliot River Elementary School expects to receive the prize money in September.

And of course the plastic bags were sent off for recycling. 


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Eliot River School won the challenge. In fact, two schools tied for first place.
    Jun 13, 2016 9:21 AM AT