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SCF Earth Day event in Bradenton sets Guinness world record

MANATEE — Volunteers at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, Thursday set a Guinness world record by collecting the most used plastic bottles within an eight-hour period: 4,980 pounds.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, teams at EarthFest 2010 volunteered to spend from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. collecting plastic milk jugs, soda bottles and empty laundry soap containers.

The haul — 46,357 bottles — was loaded into giant Waste Pro trucks, which trundled off to a processing facility, where a scale calculated the exact weight.

The previous record was 657 pounds collected over a period of eight hours, but SCF eclipsed that mark by 3 p.m.

The old record was held by Discovery Elementary Green Team, in Sammamish, Wash., according to Guinness World Records adjudicator Kimberly Partrick, of New York City, who oversaw Thursday’s event.

The day’s activities were spearheaded by Earth Club member Shane Henry, 23, of Bradenton, a SCF student studying marketing.

“Last year, I was frustrated to see plastic bottles dumped in the trash, so I decided to start collecting bottles — and it grew into this,” he said.

A dozen volunteers were counting, with rows of exhibitors and sponsors nearby, not to mention a casual soccer game that had developed on the green southwest corner of the campus at 16th Avenue and 34th Street, where EarthFest was held.

The event also featured entertainment, a hybrid- and fuel-efficient vehicle show, local “green” business displays and a kids’ zone, plus sales of hotdogs and sodas.

“The response has been fabulous, a much bigger turn-out than last year,” said Andy Toller, district manager for Waste Pro of Florida Inc., which assisted in the day’s festivities.

He had a few suggestions for those who want to help Mother Earth through more ecologically-friendly living.

He suggested conserving water by lawn watering one day less each week; conserving electricity by turning off lights; and using solar- or electric-powered cars.

SCF student Rafael Ayala, 24, of Bradenton, who is studying political science, said there are a lot of simple things that can be done.

“I’m here just to help support the campus and help support ecological consciousness and positive change,” he said.