Bag Blog

Oley Girl Scouts Recognized for Bag Collecting Project

By Jill E. Sheetz - Reading Eagle


Oley, PA - Girl Scout Troop 1645 of Oley was recognized recently for collecting 61,852 plastic bags for recycling and reuse by Trex Co., headquartered in Winchester, Va. The company, one of the nation's leading manufacturers of wood alternative products for decking materials, puts forth an annual challenge to the entire country to see which participating organization can collect the most plastic bags.

These bags then are recycled into wood alternative products by Trex. Any organization, such as a school, church group or Scout troop, is eligible to participate and can contact Trex for contest rules and guidelines.

Troop 1645, which meets in the Oley Valley Elementary and Middle schools, was the top contributor for the drive in the northeast region. Troop leader Heather L. Ulrich of Oley said she came across the contest while searching for a project topic for five of the troop members, all sixth-graders at Oley Valley Middle School, to do for their Bronze award. This award is the highest recognition given at the Junior Girl Scout level before members move to the Cadette level.

"We were doing a unit on recycling," Ulrich said. "It's called a journey. They took some interest in it, and we visited the Pioneer Landfill near Birdsboro and the idea just took off from there."

Having visited the site, the girls saw how quickly space can fill up with trash, she added.

"They were definitely interested," she said. "We had no idea how enormous the project would end up being. The volume of bags that we were able to collect was unbelievable."

Ulrich contacted the Oley Valley School District and, after receiving permission from the administration, she and the troop members distributed a collection bin, provided by Trex, to each school. They advertised the collection drive starting in mid-November in PTO and school newsletters and television announcements.

Students, faculty and staff brought in any style plastic bag, such as grocery, bread and sandwich bags. At first, Ulrich said the troop was emptying the bins during their weekly meetings, but toward the end of the challenge in April the receptacles filled up daily.

Ulrich stored bags collected between meetings in her garage. The girls counted the items by hand and kept a tally of the number of bags collected from each school. After counting and tallying, the girls deposited the bags in Trex collection bins at Weis/Kings in Oley.

As the northeast regional winner, the troop received a park bench made out of recycled plastic products from Trex. It also received a birdhouse made from the same type of recycled materials as a participation prize.

"Midway through they got a little overwhelmed because the bags were nonstop, but obviously they were ecstatic to find out that their efforts were recognized by winning the bench," Ulrich said.

The girls donated the bench to the Oley Valley Middle School, which had the highest number of bags collected per student population in the district. The bench is now in place in the school's courtyard. They gave the birdhouse to the elementary school, the runner-up in the tally. The piece is in use in the butterfly memorial garden.

The girls received their Bronze awards at a separate awards ceremony after Ulrich submitted the appropriate paperwork to the local council verifying that they fulfilled more than the required 40 hours of service helping the community through the project. Ulrich said the girls will keep the award as they move into upper levels of Girl Scouts.


To learn more about the contest, contact Samara Norman at 503-816-3754 or