REEL Things Launches Plastic-Free Schools Contest
by Martinique Davis
Oct 14, 2012 | 1089 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TELLURIDE – In the midst of destructive tides caused by plastic manufacturing around the globe, one locally based group is taking education on the subject to new heights.

REEL Thing Films, a production company based in Telluride and creator of the award-winning documentary Bag It, recently launched the Bag It Plastic Free School contest, to encourage teachers and students to develop creative and effective action projects that reduce disposable plastic use in their communities, says REEL Thing’s Plastic Free Schools Contest Coordinator Laura Colbert.

“We started this contest as a way to get more hands-on education for kids,” Colbert says, explaining that the Plastic Free School contest is part of Bag It’s larger education initiative. The contest, she continues, does more than raise awareness about the plastic waste epidemic explored by the film: The competition actually gives kids a framework to create change within their communities.

“So instead of just being a passive watcher, the contest takes it to the next step of not just knowing, but actually doing,” Colbert says.

Students will be expected to create projects that raise awareness, as well as have a measurable impact on the use of plastic within their school and community. “How far they want to take it, how they choose to do it, and how creative they are is all up to the students,” Colbert explains. “We’re leaving it wide open…and are hoping to see some interesting stuff.”

The Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, founded by Jack and Kim Johnson to support environmental, art, and music education, provided the grant that made licensed copies of the Bag It educational DVD and curriculum packet available to 200 schools across the country.

Although it’s still early in the competition, Colbert says the organization has received inquiries from schools across the country, as well as Canada, Jamaica, and more.

The schools with the most creative and effective impact on plastic use will be eligible for prizes.

"Not only will students feel empowered, having made a positive impact on their community, but teams will also be eligible for awesome prizes," said Michelle Hill, REEL Thing Films producer.

Bag It Plastic Free School prizes include a school installation of an Elkay EZH2ORapid Bottle Fill Station, replacing single-use plastic bottles with a quick, clean filtered water, and a trip to the Algalita Marine Research Institute's Plastic Ocean Pollution Solutions International Youth Summit in Southern California. The winning school will also receive a personalized video message from singer/songwriter Jack Johnson.

The contest is open to all schools. Participating students can use the DVD and curriculum packet as a tool to develop and execute plans that change the way their school, and communities, perceive and use single-use plastic products.

The contest represents the latest REEL Thing Films initiative to reduce plastic use. Over 100 towns nationwide are currently participating in the Bag It Town program, helping communities eliminate the use of plastic bags at retail stores through voluntary bans or ordinances.

Bag It premiered at Telluride Mountainfilm Festival in 2010, and has gone on to win several awards, including Mountainfilm's "Audience Choice Award" and the Blue Ocean's Film Festival's "Best of Festival" award. Bag It continues to screen at festivals around the world and on the Documentary Channel. The film is also available through Netflix and Itunes for home viewing.

Bag It Plastic Free School contest rules and more information are available on the Bag It website, where the winning entries will be featured. Classes or groups of students from grades 4 through 12 are eligible to enter. Projects must be completed or in motion by March 15 and the winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22, 2013.

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