I am known as a “pageant girl” in my small town of Delanco, New Jersey. While many people can’t see past the word “pageant”, the pageant I participate in is nothing like what you have seen on T.V. America’s National Teenager is a pageant system is based on leadership, academic achievement, and community service. If it were not for this program, I may have never started my recycling program.
I had already begun doing community service prior to doing pageants. My greatest passion, D.R.O.P. (Delanco Recycles Our Plastic) Bags, began in 5th grade. I realized that people were not recycling those plastic shopping bags that we see all around us and I knew that they were a huge problem for our community. They could be seen floating down the river, caught up in the trees or drifting around the streets.
D.R.O.P. works like this: I set up locations throughout my community in the schools, town hall and library. Then, through the township web site, communication with school kids and their families, and posters, I ask the townspeople to bring their plastic bags to my containers. Then, with my family’s help, I bring the bags to the recycling location at my local grocery store. The store staff, with the help of the great people at Goodwill, makes sure the bags get to a recycling facility that turns them into eco-friendly lumber.
D.R.O.P. Bags gave me opportunities to begin working with the Burlington County Clean Communities Council. I began making presentations at their events to encourage recycling and make sure that people knew how important it was to keep our communities clean. My recycling program was nominated the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award, and I was so thankful to receive the Honorable Mention. D.R.O.P. Bags provided additional opportunities: being a NJ Clean Communities Council Environmental Ambassador, participating in seminars and special events, and meeting amazing people who champion the environment every day.
This year, I received the Presidential Environmental Youth Award! Only ten of these awards are made each year. I feel so honored and really blessed. I hope that D.R.O.P. Bags continues to make a difference in the world because it sure has made a difference in mine!
About the author: Miranda Pawline is a sophomore attending Holy Cross High School in Delanco, New Jersey where she is an honor roll student, Interact Club member and Varsity Softball player. She is the 2011 America’s Junior National Sweetheart. The ball gown she appears with in the picture is made from plastic bags!
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