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Helping the Earth — one wrapper at a time

The Escanaba High School Environmental Club is shown recently with a “Trick or Trash” box. The club members chose to recycle Halloween candy wrappers for their first campaign. Students who attended the Lake Superior Youth Symposium last spring wanted to start an Environmental Club after they saw the impacts of pollution on the Great Lakes. The club members have started two other projects this year. Shown, from left, standing, are Rozalynn Smith (11th), Tavi Hamilton (12th), Caitlyn DeGrand (12th), Gabby Chouinard (10th), and Alan Koszla (11th); sitting from left, are Jenna Lynn Anderson (11th), Angel Frohman (11th), Aaron Rosendahl (11th), and Kaylee Casey (12th). (Courtesy photo)

By DEBORAH PRESCOTT

Escanaba Daily Press

ESCANABA — Students in the Escanaba area are recycling candy wrappers after Halloween this year instead of throwing the wrappers in the trash, thanks to Escanaba High School’s Environmental Club. The new club decided the first activity it would take on would be the “Trick or Trash” campaign. Members of the club provided drop-off points for high school, Holy Name and Lemmer Elementary students to dispose of unwanted Halloween candy wrappers for recycling.

“We have gotten a lot of wrappers from kids here,” said Escanaba High School Special Education teacher and advisor to the Environmental Club Jessica Garber.

Club members have also picked up wrappers dropped off at Holy Name and Lemmer.

The company Rubion Global launched a “Trick or Trash” recycling awareness program. Garber received information from Rubion Global to educate students about keeping wrappers out of landfills and getting them into a recycling stream. More than 450 teachers signed up for the program. Escanaba High School is one of nine schools in Michigan working with the program to recycle.

The Environmental Club will close the “Trick or Trash” box when it is full and ship it free of charge to Terracycle, a waste management company.

“We plan on packing the box as full as possible before sending it back,” said Garber.

Students wanted to have a club that did activities to help the environment after a visit to the Lake Superior Youth Symposium during the 2018-2019 school year. Seventh through 12th grade students from schools in the Upper Peninsula explored unique features of Lake Superior through workshops, field trips, and presentations. They met new friends and discussed how they could be good stewards of natural resources.

“This Environmental Club was thought up by a few students last year who went to the Lake Superior Youth Symposium because they saw the impacts of pollution on our Great Lakes,” said Garber. “We had a meeting to gauge interest at the end of last year, but our first meeting of this year was Oct. 15,” said Garber.

Garber decided there was enough interest to start a club for the 2019-2020 school year and is excited to see how it will grow. The club is so new they are in the stage of deciding the type of projects to engage in.

“We have a small group of students who are working on the Environmental Club right now, but we are hoping the numbers will grow,” said Garber.

The first project the club tackled was the “Trick-or-Trash” campaign. The next project is to recycle plastic soda bottles to prevent them from going into the trash bins in the high school. The club now has a new bin to recycle bottles with the recycle number 1 or 2 at the bottom.

“All the bottles are going into the trash now,” Garber said.

Starting Nov. 15, the Environmental Club will start recycling plastic bags, bread bags, bubble wrap, dry cleaning bags, newspaper sleeves, ice bags, plastic shipping envelopes, “ziploc” bags, cereal bags, case over-wrap, salt bags, pellet wrap and stretch film, wood pellet bags and produce bags. With each bag they recycle the club members get closer to winning a bench from the TREX Company, Inc., a major manufacturer of wood alternative decking, railings and other outdoor items made from recycled materials. The plastic items will be weighed weekly and the weight will be entered monthly on the TREX website. According to Garber TREX is sending the club bins for the plastic film challenge.

“This is a small jumping off point for us and the students are very excited to be making these small changes for the better,” Garber said.