DCD Middle School Student Evan Michaeli Takes a Stand Against Plastic Bags

Leslie Bowen
DCD seventh grader Evan Michaeli is a testament to the impact that young people can have on the issues affecting our planet. Evan founded the school's student-run Green Club along with his brother Drew, a sixth grader, and eighth grader Matthew Volfson. An ardent environmentalist, Evan recently presented his views about the environmental risks of plastic bags to the Town of Dedham's Sustainability Committee.

Since then, he's been an active member of its plastic bag ban sub-committee, and along with fellow Green Club members, plans to also submit a proposal to DCD to ban the use of plastic water bottles at campus-run events.

Read below the full text of the interview that appeared in the Dedham Times:  

DCD STUDENT TAKES A STAND AGAINST THE IMPACT OF PLASTIC BAGS ON ENVIRONMENT

Evan Michaeli, 12, a student at Dedham Country Day, is passionate about the environment. During the fall, he presented facts about environmental risks to the Town of Dedham’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and has since been an active member of its plastic bag sub-committee. Members are constantly inspired by his activism and positive spirit.
Evan recently spoke to members of the Committee. That conversation is included below:

Why do you feel single-use plastic bags should be phased out in Dedham?
Since single-use plastic bags are unhealthy for the environment, I feel that they should be banned in general. According to The World Counts, the world uses five trillion plastic bags per year. Even though banning plastic bags in Dedham is a small step, it will help solve a much bigger problem worldwide.

How did you develop your interest in sustainability and environmental issues?
I spent last year at school in Newport, RI where I could see the ocean from my classrooms. Being so close to the ocean, the school had a heavy focus on it and other environmental issues. In science class, we spent a lot of time cleaning the beach. After several months of cleaning the beaches, we started learning about the effects of plastic bags in the water and how they impact marine life and the environment. This opened my mind to how I can help save the world from drowning in plastic bags.

Why should older generations worry about the environment?
Things always work out, don’t they? Older generations should worry about the environment because they are living in it and also their children and grandchildren will suffer from the mistakes we make today. For example, according to BBC News, in 2050 it is projected that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. The animals in the ocean are getting entangled in the plastic and mistaking it for food. An example would be a turtle that eats a plastic bag thinking it is a jellyfish. The ocean is a major source of oxygen for humans and marine life is also used for food and medications. By destroying the oceans, we are destroying the food chain and the habits of the ocean.

What steps can young people – such as K-12 students – take to have a positive impact on the environment?
Students can take individual responsibility by using fewer plastic products. They can encourage their parents to use reusable bags, reusable water bottles and metal straws. Students can learn how to recycle plastics correctly. According to the New York Times, 70% of plastic is not recyclable. However, within the remaining 30%, only 9% is recycled properly.

Are there any other materials you’d like to see banned or limited in use?
Of course! Bags are just the beginning. I would love to see plastic water bottles, plastic straws and Styrofoam banned or limited in use. All of these have negative impacts on the environment. According to The Telegraph (UK), it takes 500-1,000 years to degrade these materials.

What would you ask members of Congress to do with respect to protecting our environment?
I would ask Congress to listen to the facts and realize what is happening. I hope Congress will pass a law to ban the use of single-use plastics. I would also like Congress to educate kids and teachers in schools, so they can learn about the effects of plastic materials in the environment.

Reprinted with permission of the Dedham Times

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