Rep. Steve Israel visited Timber Point Elementary School on November 21, on a mission to learn more about the environmentally conscious fifth-grade class known as “The Recyclinators” and the numerous projects they have initiated in order to help the East Islip school go green. Israel, who has served as representative for New York's 2nd congressional district since 2001, came to Timber Point in response to letters the students had written him about their difficulties in disposing of over 12,000 alkaline batteries they had collected through the school's recycling efforts.
During the meeting, the congressman learned about upcycling from Julia Ryan and Owen Meddis, while Dylan Lopez and Charlie Curran spoke impressively about the school’s recycling program, using a triple bar graph to get their points across. Zaina Abdelbaky shared decomposition rates with Rep. Israel, finishing with a test for the congressman to see if he knew how long plastic foam takes to break down. His answer was the correct one – it never breaks down. Matthew Pinz presented information on the dangers of landfills, noting the specific problem of alkaline batteries, which contain chemicals that can leak into the water supply if the batteries are disposed of in landfills. Nick Dimitriou and Tom Hazell presented Rep. Israel with a reusable grocery tote made from recycled water bottles, informing the congressman that plastic bags begin leaking dangerous chemicals into the soil within 10 years of being placed in landfills.
The students were impressed with both the congressman’s demeanor and the genuine interest he displayed in their projects. "He asked a lot of good questions about our work," said Julia Ryan. "I was happy that he treated us like people, not just kids,” added Kerri Smith.
According to Recylinators teachers Jen Giordano, Rep. Israel plans to work with the class to draft legislation requiring that anyone selling alkaline batteries must collect them back. “He even gave us a homework assignment,” said Giordano. “We have to contact fifth-graders around the country and ask them to join our Recyclinator movement and contact their congressional representatives to support our legislation when it comes up for a vote.”