The Plastic Police

Last spring, during Project Week, Ashland Elementary Middle Tier students were challenged to explore real world issues and to gain new life experiences.  The students designed endeavors that demonstrated how teenagers can make a difference in the lives of others.  One group, The Plastic Police, have opted to continue their mission to reduce single use plastic and to bring awareness of the problem to their peers.


As a recent school-wide assembly, team members Aaron Desmond, Grady O’Leary, Talan Gardner, Brandon Fogg, Shelby Montague, Andy Wendelboe, Taylor Elsmore, Lee Norris and Jamison Jacheo explained why single use plastic water bottles are a real threat to our environment.  These bottles do not decompose, but rather break down into smaller pieces, which animals ingest.  The students also pointed out that there are currently millions of plastic water bottles in the ocean that are harming sea life.

Thanks to the work of The Plastic Police, AES has made two important changes that will reduce the school community’s use of plastic.  The first was to replace the plastic utensils in the café with metal silverware.  The second is the installation of water bottle filling stations throughout the school. 

The school nurse, Sue Rubbe, RN, submitted a grant application through the NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health to receive two water bottle filling stations for the school.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the benefits of increasing access to drinking water throughout the day include providing a health alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages, helping students stay hydrated and improving cognitive function in children and adolescents. Members of the AES community were thrilled to learn that two water bottle filling stations were to be donated to the school.  Shortly after their arrival, AES parent Jeff Mudgett of JCM Plumbing volunteered his time to install the units.

In addition to keeping students healthy, the water bottle filling stations also have a positive effect on the goal to reduce plastic use throughout the school building.  At last count, by refilling reusable water bottles, members of the AES community have prevented over 1,400 single use plastic bottles from reaching local landfills.

Each month, members of The Plastic Police will be collecting all of the plastic waste that has been placed into special plastic recycling bins.  They will be keeping count of the amount of plastic that is thrown away and hope to show a drastic reduction by the end of the school year.

These students also hope to take their show on the road by presenting their information to other local schools.  They plan to invite these students to also participate in the plastic reduction challenge.

Students Hunter Melanson, Masyn Smith and Ellie Wendelboe are excited to make a
difference by using their reusable water bottles at the water bottle filling station.