Sixth grade students at Soldotna Montessori Charter School fashioned the bags they made using donated T-shirts, in an effort to reduce the use of plastic bags. (Photo courtesy Terri Carter)

Sixth grade students at Soldotna Montessori Charter School fashioned the bags they made using donated T-shirts, in an effort to reduce the use of plastic bags. (Photo courtesy Terri Carter)

Zero waste with rags to bags

  • By KAT SORENSEN
  • Sunday, March 26, 2017 8:46pm
  • NewsSchools

Students at Soldotna Montessori Charter School are no strangers to community service.

For the entire third quarter of each year, students donate at least one day a week to community service, dedicating their time to a specific cause. This year, the sixth grade students decided to tackle the concern of plastic bags in conjunction with the Zero-Waste Initiative, sponsored by a grant with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Terri Carter, a teacher at Montessori Charter.

“The statistics of plastic bags are horrifying. In an attempt to counteract that, (the sixth graders) decided they were going to work to minimize the use of single use plastic bags,” Carter said. “They did a lot of research and came up with a plan to collect T-shirts and to turn them into reusable bags.”

The students organized a campaign to collect shirts from the community and surrounding businesses. They received donations from Bargain Basement in Kenai and Bishop’s Attic in Soldotna. All together, they collected over 700 shirts, Carter said.

“It’s really powerful to see, that when kids that have a vision and motivation are given an opportunity, to see what they come up with,” she said. “It’ was their plan, their vision and they implemented it.”

They used the donated shirts to create reusable, cloth grocery bags. At the start, the students found that they could make about seven shirts during each community service session. They did the math and were worried that it would take the 25 sixth grade students too long to transform all of the shirts into bags.

“Eventually, one of the students realized that if we did an assembly line, it would move faster,” Carter explained. “They invented an assembly line and got mass production going so we were able to complete all the bags quickly.”

A majority of the bags were claimed by members of the Montessori Charter School community, but the remaining bags were donated to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank and the United Methodist Food Bank.

“The big lesson in all of this is that, for there to be an impact, it will take a significant effort on the part of all of us,” Carter said. “But, that isn’t to diminish the fact that each of us can make a difference. It’s an exciting moment for the kids when they see someone using their bag and making a difference.”

Kat Sorensen can be reached at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

More in News

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander sits inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ostrander to leave City of Kenai in January

Ostrander has served as the city manager since 2017

Melanie Hardin, right, greets the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees before her interview for the APFC’s executive director’s job Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Juneau, (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Permanent Fund board picks new executive director

Trustees work overtime selecting from three candidates after interviews Monday

A sign welcoming visitors to the Literary Haunted House at the Kenai Community Library can be seen here on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
A sign welcoming visitors to the Literary Haunted House at the Kenai Community Library can be seen here on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Libraries host haunted houses, scary storytimes, seasonal crafts

It’s all about Halloween at Kenai and Soldotna libraries

Kenai Fire Marshal Jeremy Hamilton is seen by one of Kenai Fire Department’s Tower trucks on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Kenai Fire Department in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Get up, get out and get safe’

Kids taught about fire safety as part of prevention effort

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Carol Freas (right) helps a voter fill out absentee election materials in Kenai City Hall ahead of the Oct. 4 municipal election on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Absentee voting already underway

Absentee in-person voting has been made available across the borough

Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
Graphic by Ashlyn O’Hara
What’s on the ballot: Reapportionment, new field house, school bond

Voters will decide on ballot measures that address schools, public safety and legislative bodies

Cars line up ahead of dismissal at Mountain View Elementary School on Thursday, September 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. A bond package up for consideration by Kenai Peninsula Borough voters on Oct. 4 would fund improvements to the school’s traffic flow. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Parking lot problems

Lack of space for pickup and drop-offs creates traffic jam at elementary school

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson points out elements of the school building on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Critical needs’: Aging school on the brink

Renovations are cost prohibitive at Soldotna Elementary

Most Read