DUNEDIN, Fla. — A local 7th grader is already making a big difference in her community. Over the last few years, Marissa Acotto has gathered hundreds of pounds of plastic material that she recycled and turned into a bench for her past elementary school.
Marissa Acotto is no stranger to community and conservation projects. She attended Garrison-Jones Elementary School in Dunedin, and during her time there she collected backpacks filled with school supplies for other students, and she also made tug toys for animals at the SPCA.
Then for the last two years, she’s been working on collecting plastic lids to turn into a bench.
“We had a service project, and the service project was giving back to the community, so I was thinking, well if these caps are just being in the trash, or accidentally thrown into the ocean, then why not just recycle it into a new bench for anyone to use?” said Marissa Acotto.
The project started for Marissa back in 5th grade, and the pandemic slowed things down a little, but she was determined to finish the project, and she’s not stopping there!
“I know I want to make one for my middle school, my high school, and maybe my college if they allow the bench,” said Acotto.
Marissa collects 100 pounds worth of plastic lids for each bench. She then hauls them up to Indiana to Green Tree Plastics where they help her transform them into something sustainable. For the future veterinarian, that’s important!
“Turtles think that plastic bags are jellyfish, so a different animal can mistake this cap for maybe a tiny white fish, white circle or fish, and accidentally swallow it,” said Acotto.
And her alma mater is just happy they get to showcase her hard work.
“Our gifted classrooms do a project like this every year. They get to choose what they want to do, they find what they’re passionate about, and so she is going to be an inspiration to the kids this year as well who are trying to figure out what they’re passionate about and what their project will be for this school year,” said Jennifer Tapia, Principal at Garrison-Jones Elementary School.
Acotto says she also plans to collect soda can tabs to turn into a dress to wear as part of a recycle/reuse fashion show.