HOWELL — As state lawmakers mull over a potential ban on single-use plastic bags at retail establishments and restaurants throughout New Jersey, students at Howell Middle School South are pushing their own township officials to take a page from several other New Jersey municipalities and prohibit the waste locally.

"Plastic pollution is a widespread problem across the world, and Howell Township needs to take action," says one 8th-grader to begin a 90-second infomercial that's airing on local television and was recently presented to the Township Council for their consideration.

"Save the planet and go green. It's easier than you think," the video adds.

Prior to presenting their ideas to township officials, the group of six students met with the local Environmental Commission to get their feedback.

"I challenged my students to tackle the problem of plastic in the environment as part of the GEOCHALLENGE, an environmental science contest sponsored by National Geographic," said Danielle Gianelos, an 8th-grade science teacher. "This group of students chose to address this from a legislative standpoint by writing a proposal to ban plastic bags in Howell Township. They researched the pros and cons, what other towns in New Jersey and states across the U.S. have done in terms of a ban, and also looked into how bags are recycled."

The students involved include Cassidy Brennan, Brian Ye, Caitlyn Zito, Samantha Ngo, Holden Saluti, and Harrison Feldman.

"The more people we get talking about the environment, the better," Ye said. "While this bag ban may or may not pass, I'm still happy that we got the conversation going in Howell Township about the dangers of plastic."

In an email to New Jersey 101.5, Howell Township Mayor Theresa Berger said the town "was toying with the idea," and these kids beat them to it.

On March 5, the state Senate approved a proposed law that would ban plastic and paper bags, and Styrofoam food containers, from being used at retail shops and restaurants. The bill now awaits action in the Assembly, where it stalled earlier this year.

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