Students in the third-grade class of Mary Beth Karkoski (left) and Carrie Donahue at Ticonderoga Elementary School decided they wanted more from recycling, so they asked public officials to help. From left are (standing) Sandra Carpenter, Peter Jubie, Logan Jordan, Abigail Young, Selena Stacy, Carly Campney, Samantha Gonyo, McKenzie Price, Connor Lawrie, Dustin Hunsdon, Nicholas Fitzgerald and Dalton Charboneau; in front are (from left) Thomas Forand, Jordyn Borho, Allison Sorette and Zachary Parent. Absent from the photo is Alexandria Harvey.

TICONDEROGA -- Some third-graders want to know why clear-plastic bottles are clogging the waste stream in Essex County.

In sorting recyclable containers at home with their parents, third-grade students at Ticonderoga Elementary School noticed that clear-plastic bottles had to be pulled out and discarded.

They began an investigation into why the Essex County recycling program does not accept No. 1 plastics but surrounding counties do.


Teacher Carrie Donohue said her class of 17 students had just studied recycling in the environment in science class and how local government works in social-studies class.

"We decided to combine the two. We brought up not just a problem but a solution. The third-graders came up with a solution. Everybody helped."

Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Robert C. Dedrick said he got a packet of letters the students wrote him about their concerns.

"I couldn't believe they'd done this. They were very thoughtful letters. I'm glad they were concerned about this."

Dedrick took the students' concerns to the Essex County Board of Supervisors, which contracts with Serkil LLC for solid-waste and recyclables collection.

A response from Serkil is awaited now, Dedrick said. He said he wants to put pressure on the firm to begin accepting No. 1 plastics for recycling.

"If we throw away No. 1 plastics, we're just wasting money," student Sandra Carpenter said.

Student Nicholas Fitzgerald said he's concerned about the future of the Earth.

"What do we do when the landfills get full? I think we should recycle No. 1 plastics."

Young Allison Sorette said she learned not just about recycling but about how local governments such as the Ticonderoga Town Council work.

"They have five people (on the council). They can't have four or six. They couldn't make decisions if they did."

Having an even number of people would mean some votes canceled each other, she said.

"We learned about how we kids can help our community change. It is important to recycle as much as possible. What if next we have to use some of our park as a landfill?"

Third-grader McKenzie Price said she learned there are seven kinds of plastics.

"We only recycle No. 2 plastic. Why can't we at least recycle No. 1 also? The land is going to be full of garbage, and we won't have enough room."


Some of the students' responses were astounding, Elementary Principal Anne Dreimiller said.

"They came up with an idea that went somewhere. Doing this helped to make it real to them."

She said Dedrick came to the school and spoke to their class on two occasions.

"They were excited when Bob came to visit. It was a wonderful experience for them. It showed the kids they're part of the community."

Dedrick said he hopes that the next time he visits the class he can bring them good news.

"They deserve an answer. I want to be able to tell them that from now on they can recycle those No. 1 bottles."

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