The saga of the great Burnaby candy wrapper project

A trip to clean up a local beach has had far-reaching effects for one Burnaby classroom.

The Grade 4/5 classes from Capitol Hill Elementary went to Barnet Marine Park in September to do a beach cleanup. The students then brought back the garbage collected to study about about the harmful effects of plastics in our environment, including single-use plastics, Vancouver banning single-use plastic straws, and the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

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If it ended there, that would have been a good learning experience.

But it didn’t.

According to teacher Leanne Botic, some students took the initiative to clean up their own school yard and walk around the neighbourhood cleaning up garbage.

“After Halloween, students noticed how many candy wrappers were left around our school property after recess so they wanted to do something about it,” Botic said. “They organized a challenge called the ‘Halloween candy wrapper challenge,’ where they challenged all 16 divisions at Capitol Hill to see which class could bring in the most candy wrappers.”

Every day, for a week, they collected and counted the candy wrappers. In the end, they had gathered 785 candy wrappers - filling an entire garbage bag.

“We walked the candy wrappers down to the local recycle BC depot and returned them,” Botic said. “They learned that soft plastics are the fastest-growing packaging on the market and can be returned to most depots under ‘flexible packaging.’ These plastics are part of a research project that looks at the best ways to recycle this material.”

Botic said the students were really into this project, asking her each day when it was time to collect the candy wrappers from each class. One student said, "I never knew that collecting and counting garbage could be fun?"


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