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Francis Howell students learn the value of recycling


Student Sam McDonnell and a homemade train made from recycled products.

Students at Francis Howell Central recently learned the importance of recycling by taking part in a project in which they found new uses for items that normally end up in a landfill.

The project, initiated by Library Media Specialists Andrea Head and Tanisha LaMartina, incorporated lessons from students’ environmental science classes. One lesson brought attention to the amount of solid waste humans produce and the amount of time it takes to break down in a landfill.

“As a world, we are running out of room and resources,” Kimberly Maxwell, environmental science teacher, said. “I think if we can talk about why recycling is important and then also transition that to upcycling, it helps kids figure out what we are doing and how we are going to sustain our world for future generations.”

Maxwell’s students gained a new perspective on recycling throughout their lesson plan and brainstormed some creative ideas to combat the growing materialism in our world. Some students repurposed items for house décor, Christmas gifts and memorabilia. Other students repurposed items to find solutions to everyday problems. Junior Mason Eggert won first place for his upcycling project where he wove plastic bags together to create a mat for the homeless.

Sophomore Sam McDonnell molded toilet paper rolls and cardboard boxes together to design a toy train for his mom’s daycare.

“Instead of buying objects like toy trains, we can make them instead,” McDonnell said. “You can take anything from trash and turn it into something good.”

Senior Emily Jesse took an old chair she uses to put on makeup every morning and sewed an old scarf to the seat cover and repurposed a milk jug and bottle caps to create storage for jewelry.

“Just think about how many milk jugs you go through in a week,” Jesse said. “If you’re just throwing that away, where is it going? It’s important to be learning about our environment, because every small thing we do could make a difference.”

This project helped students realize they’re the next generation of problem solvers. 

“They will be the ones that are solving our environmental issues and what to do with all of our recyclables,” LaMartina said. “We hope that we are getting them to think about it now, even if they are just doing it individually at home.” 

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