(VIDEO) Middle school students collect one million plastic bottle caps in microplastics challenge
Middle school students in the Long Island Sound coastal city of Stamford, Connecticut, have collected one million plastic bottle caps to prevent tons of plastic from ever reaching Long Island Sound. Now, their plastic has been upcycled into a useful product for the community. The product is a countertop dish rack made entirely of plastic bottle caps which was presented to the students in an assembly at the Rogers International School.
The problem of plastic waste
Students are well aware of the problems caused by mismanaged plastic waste. They see it on their beaches and their playgrounds before it reaches the water. After it reaches the water, they see it under a microscope as tiny particles known as microplastics suspended in Long Island Sound water samples, hazardous to the health of animals and humans. Every middle school student in Stamford's public schools studies microplastics with SoundWaters, an environmental education organization focused on the protection of Long Island Sound.
The one million bottle cap challenge
For the past three years, SoundWaters has challenged 3,600 middle school students to turn their education about microplastics into action and contribute to a solution to the local and global problem of microplastics in water. The challenge? Collect one million plastic bottle caps to prevent them from ever reaching Long Island Sound. Despite a pandemic that affected the last three school years, Stamford middle school students, with support from thousands of students across Connecticut and beyond, have collected 2.5 million plastic bottle caps – approximately four tons of plastic.
What to do with one million bottle caps
The students' goal with all the plastic they collected was always to make a useful product that would return to the community. Working with the Society of Plastics Engineers and the World Design Organization, Stamford students engaged in a design challenge, competing as teams to design a useful product. The winning design, from 6th-grade students at the Rogers International School, was a countertop dish rack. Additional plastic is being used to create handy plastic storage bins. Dish racks and storage bins will be distributed to all schools that participated in the Million Bottle Cap Challenge.