BARNEGAT, NJ - Barnegat Township School District fifth graders who are part of the Leaders in Training (L.I.T.), club assembled an art project that raises awareness about reducing plastic waste.   

For the past month, the students collected empty water bottles from their respective schools for the project, which allowed them to see how many single-use plastic bottles are used and disposed of every day.  On Tuesday, L.I.T. students gathered at The Joseph T. Donahue Elementary School to assemble the 3D project.  A large wooden fish made by L.I.T. Advisor and Robert L. Horbelt School teacher, Bonnie Harris is the base of the project. Dozens of empty plastic bottle were attached by the students, making it a powerful sculpture. 

“I think this was eye-opening for the students to see how many bottles they collected in such a short period of time” said Harris.  “I hope they understand the kind of impact plastics have on the environment, especially the ocean.” 

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During the project, L.I.T students learned how marine litter eventually breaks down into smaller bits which are then eaten by fish and how plastic pollution causes significant harm to ocean life. They also saw first-hand how big the problem during a beach cleanup earlier in the school year when they collected more than 75 pounds of trash by the Barnegat Lighthouse.   

“I think it’s cool that we can take trash and make it beautiful and show that things can be recycled in unexpected ways,” said Paige Mairowicz, an L.I.T. from the Robert L. Horbelt School.  “I hope this makes a difference and people start using reusable bottles, which I like better anyway.” 

A seine net full of more empty bottles will also be added to the piece along with a sign that reads, “Clean the Ocean, Save the Fish” a slogan voted on by the L.I.T. students.  The project will rotate between all of the district’s elementary schools, where it will be on display for several weeks before moving on to the next school.