From bags to benches

Rochester Lions Club collects enough plastic bags to build bench
May 25, 2021

Five hundred pounds of plastic bags will be transformed from an environmental eyesore to a beckoning bench, thanks to a community effort sponsored by the Rochester Lions Club.

The organization recently completed a challenge sponsored by Trex, a manufacturer of composite wood-alternative material.

To meet the challenge, the Rochester Lions Club had six months to collect 500 pounds of plastic bags. If the challenge was met, the club would receive a bench that was created from the donated plastics.

Club members will in turn donate the bench to the community.

The prospect of collecting so much in six month initially seemed daunting, incoming Rochester Lions Club president Deb Grassi said.

The goal “sounded bottomless," she said.

But thanks to community support, 500 pounds of plastic bags were collected within four months, two months shy of the goal. They began Jan. 1 and completed the task by the end of April.

“It’s amazing how fast you can collect 500 pounds," Grassi said.

She said a large green plastic trash bag filled with grocery bags can weigh six to 11 pounds, she said. About 50 of those added up to the 500 pounds needed.

Plastic bags were collected at various area locations and were then brought to Shaw’s supermarket in Wareham, where staff members sent them to Trex.

“This would not have been possible without them,” Grassi said of the support from Shaw’s.

The bench is currently being constructed, she said. The club is working with the Rochester Parks Commission to determine the best location.

Grassi hopes the bench will find a home at the Dexter Lane Community Playground. The club helped to support the playground’s construction so “we thought it would be nice,” she said, to locate the bench at the site.

Community service is integral to the Lions Club, Grassi said.

The 25-member Rochester Lions Club meets monthly.

Each year, the Massachusetts Lions Eye Research Fund donates about a million dollars toward eye research.

“I love getting out into the community and doing things" to help others, Grassi said. “Lionism is my passion."