Des Moines Scout Troups Wins Build with Bags Grant for Hanawalt Elementary School, Makes Trip to Iowa Falls


Des Moines Scout Troups Win Build with Bags Grant for Hanawalt Elementary School, Makes Trip to Iowa Falls

Des Moines Girl Scout troop 232, made a trip to Iowa Falls recently to visit Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls. They returned with three new benches for their school’s playground. Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls partners with grocers to turn plastic shopping bags into planters, benches and picnic tables made of recycled plastic. 

Troop leader Amy Dagitz and her scouts learned that it takes approximately 10,600 bags to make one park bench. "That's a lot of bags that won't end up in the landfill," Dagitz said.

The trip came after working together with the Cub Scouts at their school to design a recycling program that earned them a Build with Bags grant. They received the good news late in April that their school had been awarded the highest grant amount possible of $2,000. Provided by Iowa grocers, the grant was used to purchase some much-needed benches for their playground at Hanawalt Elementary in Des Moines.

The Girl Scouts’ and Cub Scouts’ efforts included working with school administrators to place a large collection bin in the main entrance of the school to gather the plastic bags for recycling. They also created flyers to distribute to students, teachers and parents encouraging them to recycle their shopping bags. Each week, the scouts counted the bags, announced the total to their classmates and then dropped them by the Fareway store on Grand Ave. in West Des Moines for recycling.

“The troops plan to continue the program at Hanawalt by passing along the materials to the scouts in the next grades coming up,” Dagitz explained. “They hope to create a legacy of recycling and environmental awareness for current and future students.”

Hanawalt Elementary School is one of 15 recipients of a Build with Bags grant award in 2019. The program, which is led by Iowa grocers seeks to encourage purchases of furniture and equipment made from recycled plastic for parks and schools, increase the amount of plastic bags recycled, reduce consumption of plastic bags and increase the safe use of reusable bags.

 “The Build with Bags program continues to encourage individuals to recycle their plastic bags so those bags can be turned into products that beautify our communities,” says Michelle Hurd, president of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association. “This year’s grant winners are reaping the rewards of their recycling efforts, and we hope other communities will follow suit and expand their recycling efforts.”

Now in its 10th year, the Build with Bags Grant program has awarded $333,561.22 in grants to more than 200 Iowa communities. Applications were evaluated based on set criteria that included a statement of need for the grant and the community’s own plastic bag recycling efforts. Grant applicants were also asked to verify the recycled plastic content in the products they were looking to purchase and obtain an endorsement letter from a local association member who is supportive of the community’s project and recycling plans. Geographic location also played a factor as the committee wanted to disperse the grant awards throughout the state of Iowa.

President Zac Voss of Voss Distributing, located in Des Moines, played an important role in making this grant possible. Voss wrote a letter of support on behalf of Hanawalt Elementary School that also led to it being selected to receive the grant.

Build with Bags, a cooperative effort of the Iowa Grocery Industry Association, Keep Iowa Beautiful, Metro Waste Authority in Des Moines, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls, was originally launched in August 2009.

For more information on Build with Bags or its grant program opportunities, please visit


recycling Iowa Grocery Industry Association plastic bags build with bags grocers