Students at Lincoln Elementary School soon will be making their television debut on a city advertisement.
They performed in an ad for recycling dubbed, “It starts with me.”
Each child held up two letters — M and E — at various notable locations throughout the city. As a narrator describes how much of an impact they could have on the environment and the city’s budget if they each recycled, they turned their Ms over to make the word “we.”
The ad ends with some encouraging data: If residents recycled 30 percent of their trash, up from 8 percent today, the city could save more than $350,000 a year in trash disposal fees.
Students were thrilled to play the main roles in the ad.
“The best part of doing the video was to get across the word that you can be that small but you can make a difference,” said Farana Saffie, 11. “You can make a real big difference.”
Mayor Gary McCarthy said the ad would be used for many initiatives, from recycling to paying taxes, by changing the narration.
“It’s really designed to be flexible. While we’re talking about recycling today, we could talk about many city issues,” he said.
He also urged the students to create their own ads.
“Maybe you could produce some of your own through YouTube and build off of what we have today,” he said.
The students who starred in the movie said they were enthusiastic about recycling, but some of them have a ways to go.
Saffie, a fifth-grader, said she recycled because “you can help our community and it’s really good for the environment.”
But at home, she said, she only recycles containers with deposits on them. She said she wished she had a big recycling bin to fill with used paper.
“That’s a thing we could recycle more … if there was a big recycling bin outside,” she said.
Residents can use virtually any container for recycling, but Commissioner of General Services Carl Olsen said he is considering asking corporations to donate used containers that would otherwise be thrown away.
His workers could put recycling decals on the containers and hand them out to interested residents.
“It’s very easy for them to participate,” Olsen said. “You only need two containers to recycle.”
City officials tried to marshal the students to get the word out.
“Truly, it starts with all of you, to remind your parents that it’s your future they’re enhancing” by recycling, said Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo.
McCarthy said the students can help remind their parents to make time to recycle.
“The kids here get it, they understand it, but the parents don’t and they forget,” he said. “We’re going to draw on the enthusiasm of these students to re-energize the community.”