St. Louis, MO – April 6, 2018 – The average American family acquires more than 1,500 plastic shopping bags per year, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. It takes at least 500 years for a single plastic bag to degrade in a landfill, absorbing toxins and continuing to pollute the environment. Earlier this year, six eastern Missouri Girl Scouts took matters into their own hands, reusing thousands of plastic bags to generate a positive change in the community.
Shea Duncan, Katie Pizzo, Eva Rodriguez, Isabella Stark, Natalie Tyarks and Ellie Werleman from Troops 4314 and 3089 recently earned the Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can achieve. These G.I.R.L.s (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)TM from St. Ann, Bridgeton, Overland and Berkeley collected more than 5,000 plastic bags, cut them into plarn (plastic yarn) and then crocheted 10 mats each measuring six feet long and three feet wide.
When determining their Silver Award project, the girls decided they wanted to have an impact on the environment and help those less fortunate than themselves. Girl Scout Isabella Stark said they had bags left over from last year’s April Showers so instead of adding those to a landfill and perpetuating unnecessary waste, they researched ways to reuse them. The girls learned the mats can serve as sleeping mats for individuals forced to live outdoors, the plastic material acting as a barrier against the harsh elements.
It took the Girl Scouts several months to create the plarn and crochet all 10 mats but before donating them, the girls wanted to understand what it meant to live without personal hygiene products, clean clothes and shelter. Last October, the six girls spent a weekend at Camp Tuckaho with just their mats, a tent and plastic garbage bags. Although Stark said she missed having a hairbrush and a fresh set of clothes, the plastic mat she used kept her warm in the evenings.
“It felt good to know I was able to give back and help those less fortunate than I am,” Stark said. “I think we take things for granted a lot and we need to appreciate what we have more.”
The Girl Scout Silver Award requires determination, communication, time management and a desire to make a difference. This distinguished award challenges Girl Scout Cadettes, girls in grades sixth through eighth, to change the world and solve a community issue; the process requires at least 50 hours of service and often spans months.
Earning the Girl Scout Silver Award is just one of the amazing things girls can do as part of Girl Scouts. To join Girl Scouts or learn more about volunteering, please visit girlscoutsem.org/join.