Sept. 5 – Senior Kaelan Cuozzo knew she was up against a challenge in November of last year. After listening to deputy superintendent Robert Landau speak at a GIN meeting about his new proposal, she took her first step into a complex half-year process that would affect the entire high school student population. Although Cuozzo’s plan was rejected six times by multiple groups, her tenacious personality pushed her to persist. In the end, her determined efforts saved 4,500 plastic bottles from polluting the world, and gave high school students a way to wear environmentalism on their sleeve — literally.
At the Global Issues Network meeting, Landau introduced Waste2Wear, a Shanghai-based brand that makes textile products from plastic bottles. They wash the bottles, process them into clean flakes, minimize them to small pellets, and finally shape them into yarn to make clothing. He suggested that SAS’ school uniforms be made from Waste2Wear.
Thoroughly inspired, Cuozzo took initiative and set out with Landau to approach the PTA with this change.
“The PTA were at their uniform bidding time, and it looked like they were going to leave their manufacturing company. It was a perfect opportunity for the entire school to change to Waste2Wear and make a huge statement,” Landau said.
Unfortunately, the plans fell through.
“I think the issue was we came in kind of late in the process. The PTA were two weeks away from having to make their final decision, and Waste2Wear did not make the cut,” Cuozzo commented.
Those involved in trying to put this idea into action felt an immediate sense of defeat. However, with Landau’s encouragement, Cuozzo refused to give up and began to approach the Athletics department, Booster Booth, and Middle School to suggest other ways to incorporate Waste2Wear products into the school. She envisioned environmentally-friendly sweatshirts, tank tops, sports uniforms, and even dish towels.
After continuous disappointment, the proposal finally went through after she talked to the Student Council.
“Due to persistence and collaboration with StuCo, the class polos are now made by Waste2Wear from plastic bottles. It’s a huge win for us,” Landau said.
Similarly, Cuozzo was ecstatic.
“That was such a happy day. We were just rejected so many times, that when StuCo agreed it was a huge, huge relief. I consider it a step in the ultimate goal of having all SAS uniforms produced by Waste2Wear,” Cuozzo said.
Apart from saving bottles from polluting landfills and oceans, the eco-friendly class polos also held another advantage. By converting plastic into textile form, rather than simply recycling plastic, it achieves a much longer lifespan because people can wear these clothes for years.
Furthermore, Cuozzo’s zeal and persistence proved something else vital to the SAS student community.
“This whole process allows people to see that if you want to pursue something you’re passionate about, it’s possible,” Cuozzo said, “Although it’s challenging, you should continue to try to accomplish it.”
Deputy superintendent Landau agreed completely: “It’s amazing what students are doing here. Be proud of the fact that you are wearing a shirt made of recycled plastic bottles. You should be in the position to make decisions about the future of your planet.”