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Park Tudor Blogs

Turning Waste into "Plarn"
By Kathy Madren, Upper School Biology Teacher

Hurricane Florence caught the attention of many in September, including the Environmental Science classes who discussed how the hurricane formed and the environmental impact it would have on the communities and ecosystems it would encounter. 
One of the major problems facing an area after a natural disaster has occurred is what to do with waste as so much of it accumulates in a very short amount of time. Not only is there a large amount of waste created as a result of the disaster, but there is also an accumulation of even more waste in the form of plastic bags, plastic bottles and pallets wrapped in plastic that follow as aid is brought to those in need. It is estimated that as much as 99% of all single use plastic bags nationwide do NOT get recycled and end up back in the environment or in a landfill where it takes anywhere from 500-1,000 years to fully break down, depending on the composition of the material. 
Some relief organizations have come up with an idea to meet the needs of those without shelter, be it by natural disaster or otherwise, by reusing the plastic bags to create “Plarn mats.” Reusing the plastic would hopefully reduce the amount of plastic going to the landfill and environment.
Excited by the prospect of having a means to positively impact the environment and help those in need, the Environmental Science classes decided to lead an effort to collect plastic bags in the Upper School throughout the rest of the month in a good-natured "Plarn Wars" to see which class could collect the most bags. The plastic collected was from shopping bags or plastic coverings from dry cleaning. 
With a winner decided at the start of October, some from each class then volunteered time outside of class to cut the plastic into useful strips that were joined to make plastic yarn (or “plarn”). Enough plarn was made to create three plarn mats! These were shared with the student body so that all could see what their efforts had turned into and then given to Mrs. Amy Kerr who will deliver them to a homeless shelter in our area. 
Taking their education beyond the classroom into the community is a key aspect of the Environmental Science classes. Coined “Community Engaged Learning,” this is just one of many examples of how Park Tudor students are making a positive difference in the Indianapolis area.​