When it came to competing in a recent nationwide contest to see who could collect the most plastic film to be recycled, local students Bryan Lee and Sam Farkas quickly proved they were no lightweights.

In fact, when all was said and done, the two had collected a whopping 813 pounds of plastic food packaging, bubble wrap, dry cleaning bags and other items — enough to earn them the 11th highest total in the nation.

Bryan and Sam participated for Randolph Elementary School in the Mid Atlantic region of the annual Trex Plastic Film Recycling Challenge, competing against 42 other schools. Overall, 700 schools participated nationwide.

The contest also encouraged students to get their schools and neighborhoods involved in the effort. In Bryan and Sam’s case, neighbors contributed 56 pounds of extra recyclables.

To Bryan, the biggest draw of getting involved in the contest was the opportunity to spread the word about how important it is to recycle.

“I wanted to increase my community awareness about how plastic is polluting the environment we’re living in,” he said, noting that the biggest challenge the two faced was just making sure everyone at their school knew what they were trying to do.

While Bryan’s favorite part of the project was weighing the plastic, Sam said his was getting to tell people how much they had collected so far. “I always liked the look on their faces, when the amount got higher and higher,” he said.

As to what he wants people to know about recycling, Sam said he hopes they understand that every little bit really does help.

“I want people to know that recycling one plastic bag or bottle can make a huge difference to our environment, even though it doesn’t seem like very much,” Sam said. “Getting as many people as possible to start recycling, actually created more awareness for our family and friends than I thought.”

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