THE ISSUE: From bottle caps to buddy benches.

OUR OPINION: What a great concept.

In less than a year, the “buddy benches” on the playground at Lecanto Primary School have proven successful in allowing elementary school-aged children to develop friendships.

Now, students at Crystal River Primary School are on a two-fold mission.

First, as an “eco school,” they’re collecting plastic bottle caps and lids to recycle so they can be good stewards of the planet and help save the environment.

The plan is take those bottle caps and lids to use as “currency” to purchase buddy benches made from recycled plastic for the playground, thus helping kids make friends, which ultimately helps the overall emotional environment of the school.

The CRPS Parent Teacher Organization decided they wanted to do the same for their school.

PTO president Carolee Henderson said as she researched benches, she came across a program of Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Indiana, “ABC Promise Partnership.”

The ABC program is designed to get students involved collecting plastic caps and lids as a “teaching tool for a lifetime of habits of green living,” according to information from the company.

Green Tree Plastics uses the plastic from collected caps and lids to recycle into things like benches, tables and trash receptacles.

The goal is to collect 650 pounds of plastic caps and lids by May in order to trade for three buddy benches, one for each playground.

There’s a cost of $200 per bench to cover the manufacturing — and they are still figuring out how to get 650 pounds of plastic to Indiana this summer.

The CRPS Parent Teacher Organization and the eco-club have taken a good idea and made it great. We applaud their efforts and encourage the community to rally behind the students’ efforts.

Who knows, maybe in the future we can make this a communitywide project to see such benches installed at area parks and trails. We should all do our part to project the environment and be friendly to each other.

How can you help?

Save your own plastic caps and lids and bring them to the front office at Crystal River Primary School at 8624 W. Crystal St., Crystal River. Phone: 352-795-2211.

Acceptable clean plastic caps include: milk jug/creamer caps, detergent, non-pump hairspray, toothpaste, deodorant, drinks such as water, soda, sports drinks, etc., spray paint, flip-tops (i.e. ketchup), ointment, baby food, shampoo/conditioner caps.

Acceptable clean plastic lids include: cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream, Cool Whip, Pringles, nuts, butter, spices, plastic jar lids (mayonnaise, peanut butter, etc.)

No metal, paper or cardboard; no prescription bottle caps, trigger or pump sprayers; no plastic that is not a cap or lid; no containers and no plastic pieces or parts.

For information about Green Tree Plastics, visit the website at www.greentreeplastics.com.

The Chronicle is also a drop-off site from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1624 N. Meadowcrest Blvd., Crystal River. Phone: 352-563-6363.

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