A small group of Ecker Hill Middle School students have influenced the Summit County Council to take a hard look at banning plastic bags. The sixth graders have developed presentation skills and overcome nerves to take their fight to the officials who have the power to make lasting changes that would influence their future.
Sixth graders from Ecker Hill Middle School, Sonja and Sheeva talked with KPCW about how they got involved with the campaign to ban plastic bag use in Summit County. Sonja explains how they started off.
"Well, since we’re so young, I wanted to create a sustainable future for our generation. And I can’t do something huge right away. Our group can’t do something huge right away. So, we wanted to start with kind of a smaller step. So, we decided to start attending council meetings. Started writing editorials and tried to ban plastic bags in our county.”
Sheeva says she didn’t know what to expect when they first appeared in front of the county council. They had prepared well by putting together a speech beforehand.
“It was really kind of nerve wracking like our first council meeting in front of all those people and it was nice to see that they actually listened to us."
They said they’ve had faculty show an interest in their bag ban efforts and hope they can attract more young people at Ecker to participate in the activism work they’re doing.
Sonja said she learned of a tragic event last year and that has helped her understand the local relevance of keeping plastic out of landfills.
“Before this I knew a lot of the worldwide statistics about plastic. But ever since I’ve started doing this, I’ve learned a lot about things that are happening in Utah. For example, pretty recently, a couple months ago, there were some deer that ingested plastic near a landfill in Utah and they died so that’s kind of a signal that it’s not just happening in the news, where you hear it. It’s happening here too.”
Mary Clausser does education outreach for RU. She says it’s her job to find and mentor those kids who want to get involved in environmental stewardship.
Sonja has some advice for fellow students on how to get involved.
“If you’re not ready to do something like this, then you can just do simple things like bring your own reusable bags or, if you see some plastic and you can either use it or not use it, choose to not sue it. Just little things. You don’t have to go in front of a council meeting. You don’t have to try to ban plastic bags in Summit County. You can just do little things to try to save plastic.”
KPCW will follow the direction the Summit County Council takes as they deliberate the Ecker Hill Middle School student’s bag ban proposal.