A PORT Elizabeth school tagged, bagged and packaged its bid for a Guinness World Record yesterday.
It looked like the Walmer high school had gone mad and planted South Africa’s “national flower” on a commercial scale, but the thousands of plastic shopping bags lying neatly on DF Malherbe’s rugby fields are set to bag it a world record.
The humble plastic shopping bag – often referred to as the country’s “national flower” because it hangs from roadside branches and fences everywhere – has fostered new school and community spirit, and brought pride and anticipation to the 598 pupils and teachers who took part in the endeavour.
Having tied together 40 174 of the 55 000 plastic bags collected, the school’s aim to thrash the world record of 30 000 plastic bags tied together in one continuous chain seems like it is finally in the bag.
“This has been a fantastic project and the pupils are really excited,” mathematics teacher Roenel van Rooyen said.
The record bid was part of the school’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
“Last year, the school’s management suggested we look at a world record attempt, one which would build cohesion between our pupils, the school management and our wider community,” Van Rooyen said.
“It has worked tremendously well. All the pupils pitched in when we started collecting plastic bags last year.”
Parents and other residents had also supplied bags.
Van Rooyen said the school had been looking for a record attempt which would not cost a lot of money and would help the environment.
“The project has achieved all of our aims, and now we will just have to wait for the final decision on the record from London, where our record attempt will be judged,” she said.
Explaining the verification process, Van Rooyen said after the packets had been tied together and laid out on the school’s fields, they were physically counted by independent adjudicators before the chain was measured by a quantity surveyor. A video recording was made of the process. “In the end, the entire chain was more than 15km in length, with a total of 40 174 packets in the chain.
“After all the documentation and evidence has been sent off we will have to wait for six weeks to see if we have achieved the record.
“But I am confident that we have bagged this new record,” she said.
School principal Arno van Wyk said he was really proud of the pupils’ efforts.
“At the weekend I checked on Facebook to see how the pupils were feeling about it. There was one man who drove past the school, saw all the plastic and wrote a sarcastic remark about how filthy the school grounds looked.
“You should have seen how fast some children and parents responded on Facebook to sort that out,” he said proudly.