CM Earth Day contest focuses on recycling

Central Manor Elementary School students and staff celebrated Earth Day Tuesday with a contest to determine just how many old classroom materials the school has kept out of the local waste stream this year.

Since the start of the school year, Central Manor has been collecting used pens, markers and glue sticks, which are sold to a company that recycles them into new products, such as park benches. On Tuesday, the old materials were piled into colorful bins in the school lobby as students in all grades tried to guess how much had been collected.

The closest guessers were second-grader Drew Lebo (3,888 items) and first-grader Kate Harnish (3,999). In the upper grades, the closest weight guessers were sixth-grader Mare Vozzella (109 lbs., 6 oz.) and fourth-grader Lindsay Jeffers (110 lbs.). The students each won a plant for their classrooms.

The actual totals? Students and staff collected 3,620 items weighing 108 pounds.

The recycling program was started last year by teacher Lorien Gilbert after she learned about TerraCycle, a company that transforms glue sticks, pens and other materials not usually considered recyclable into new products.

“TerraCycle is an easy way for kids to make a difference,” Gilbert said. “What’s even better is that they pay us every time we mail a shipment. Our student council can decide whether it wants to spend that money on our school garden, save for a larger recycling initiative or donate the money to an organization like Smile Train.”

“It’s a pretty impressive visual display,” Gilbert said of the collected materials. “It’s amazing to think that these items would otherwise just be trash.”