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Lions help Beach students with successful bottle cap collection effort

May 15, 2019
By KATE EGAN ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The goal last Friday was to collect 200 pounds of plastic bottle caps.

Those pieces of recycled treasure will eventually be transformed into what's called a buddy bench. Its goal is to help children feel less isolated and more included on the playground. Its new home will be at Fort Myers Beach Elementary School.

At the end of the sorting last Friday, the bag weighed 192 pounds. And that's only half of what the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club has collected so far. There's still a bunch of bags full of plastic bottle caps in storage.

Article Photos

First graders from Fort Myers Beach Elementary School helped with collecting, sorting and weighing the bottle caps to learn about recycling as well as bullying and the value of friendship.


"I think if we get kids involved with this, this is a great teaching moment to teach kids not only about bullying, but recycling, too," said Fort Myers Beach Lions Club spokesperson, Tamara Glynn, who first brought the project to the club's attention. "When I saw a program that marries the two, I was really excited."

First graders from Fort Myers Beach Elementary School helped with collecting, sorting and weighing the bottle caps to learn about recycling as well as bullying and the value of friendship.

Kids from the school have also been collecting bottle caps, Glynn said.

Only clean caps from these items were allowed: Drink bottles, milk jugs, hair spray, deodorant, flip-top or spout bottles (ketchup, mustard), spray paint, detergent and caps with recycle No. two, four and five.

Clean lids from cottage cheese containers, mayonnaise, peanut butter jars, and yogurt, butter, and prescription bottles with labels removed were also accepted.

Caps with any metal, plastic or grocery bags, trigger sprayers, lotion pumps or fast food drink lids or caps or lids with recycle No. one, three, six and seven were not accepted.

Fifth graders were initially supposed to help sort the caps, but Glynn said they had tests to take, so the first graders stepped in. Glynn said that's also why they only brought half of what they've collected so far.

She thought the first graders might get overwhelmed, but the kids really got into it

"They were very conscientious of sorting and taking things out that were not allowed," Glynn said. "I was very impressed because they were first graders."

In fact, they pulled out a whopping 30 gallon trash bag full of trash.

"There was a great response from the community," Glynn said. "We got caps from everywhere-hotels, private companies, families from the Beach. Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina collected 82 pounds."

The four drop off locations included the Fort Myers Beach Public Library, Fort Myers Beach Woman's Club, Fort Myers Beach Elementary School, and the Greater Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

When Glynn first heard about the project on Facebook, she had her heart set on making it happen.

"I think it's good to collect plastic from the beach," she said.

"Any effort to get plastic off the beach is really important."

Besides getting plastic off the beach, the buddy bench will also help children feel a little less lonely.

It's designed to help children who have no friends to play with, or who feel bullied or isolated. This is how it works: A child sitting on a buddy bench is a signal to other children that they should consider including the child on the bench in their play.

The theory behind it is that the solution to bullying is not "anti-bully zones" or "just say no" campaigns, but an emphasis on friendship and connection.

A few reasons children may find themselves sitting on the buddy bench are if they are new to the school, want to make new friends, their normal friends aren't at school that day, or they want to play something different than what their friends are playing.

Now that the caps have been collected, they have to find their way to Green Tree Plastics in Indiana, the company that makes the benches (and other furniture) out of recycled plastics.

Glynn says they haven't picked a color yet, but gray, green and rainbow are a few possible options for the six-foot bench.

Green Tree Plastics gives the Lions Club a date to be in Indiana and drop off the caps. They cannot be shipped, so the club has to work out the logistics.

"We're working that out because someone would have to drive to Indiana," Glynn said. "If any company out there has a delivery truck that wants to help. So, that's something we're thinking about."

Glynn also wants to do more environmentally friendly projects with children.

"We don't need caps, but we need more children's groups to come onboard," she said.

The ABC PROGRAM from Green Tree Plastics is a cap and lid program specifically designed by school children for school children. It's designed to be a tool for teachers to educate children about caring for the Earth and green living.

"It started with the Beach school, but I'd love to have more youth groups come onboard even if they're from other places in Lee County, so they can register and we can collect caps, even if they don't need a buddy bench, they can have things like a picnic table," Glynn said.

Glynn is thinking about getting Lee County Parks & Recreation involved, too.

"If benches or picnic tables break," she said. "They can be replaced with recycled tables or benches."

"We just need kids to get involved because the company only works with kids groups."



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