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Environmental activism has long been a hallmark of the Girl Scout.

For over a century the girls in green have been living by the basic principal that you leave a place better than you found it.

Here in Ravena the girls of Troop 1490 have been hard at work on their Girl Scout Bronze Award, which is defined as “a leadership adventure and the highest honor a Girl Scout Junior can achieve.”

Last Sunday months of planning came to successful completion as the girls gave the community their Bronze Award offering, an environmental initiative entitled “Save Our Planet Sunday”. The mission of Save Our Planet Sunday reads: “Since plastic bags can be so harmful to our environment, our mission is to encourage our community to go plastic bag free, beginning with one day a year.”

So the girls put out the call, and the community responded.

Last Wednesday the troop held an informative meeting at the RCS Community Library’s community room that was attended by officials from both the town and village boards.

They gave a presentation on what they had learned since they started worked on the leadership journey in November, which included a video with graphic footage of the harmful effects of single-use plastic bags on the environment and its animal inhabitants. The video also showed how the small town of Modbury in the U.K. is now a plastic bag-free community, and they were able to make the switch in six weeks.

Their presentation was well received, so much so that Village Trustee Bill Bailey and Town Supervisor Stephen Flach offered to put the initiative on their respective agendas to proclaim the second Sunday of each June a plastic bag-free day in both the village and the town.

“I think it is so great the kids would take all this into consideration. It seems like such a small thing, but for them to take this one thing and move this far forward with it is great. In today’s world it seems like the younger generation doesn’t seem to care about things like this. That’s the great thing about Girl Scouts, it has prompted these girls, as small as they are, to take the initiative to change their world,” Flach said after viewing the presentation.

With the presentation complete and with the support of the community leadership secured, the girls took to the aisles of Shop and Save on Sunday morning.

Through the cooperation of store owner Kyle Smith and his staff, girls were on hand to inform customers of their mission and offer them a colorful alternative to the single-use plastic we’ve all gotten used to.

Late last month the girls, with the help of Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary School Art Instructor Kathy Wolfe, visited K-5 art classes and taught the art students about their project. Because Shop And Save had donated 400 paper shopping bags for the project, the girls were able to supply each student in the school with a palette for their own Save Our Planet Sunday artwork.

The bags were then returned to the store on Sunday morning, where the troop members happily handed out the one-of-a-kind bags to interested customers.

Dianne Stone of Ravena was there doing her Sunday morning shopping when the girls approached her about their project. She was glad to accept their offering.

“I think this project is lovely. I like the idea and the girls are doing a great job,” Stone said as she wheeled her packed-full cart of paper-bagged groceries out the door.

Now that the girls have each completed 20 hours of work on their project, helped to ensure it will move forward after they are juniors no more, and gotten their community involved, their work is done. Later this month, the troop will participate in a bridging ceremony where they will relinquish the title of Junior to become Girl Scout Cadettes.

The highest award a Cadette can receive? Why, it’s the silver, of course. Who knows what this troop of ambitious girls has in store for that project.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

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