2012-04-05 / Community News

Recycling group in state-wide challenge

Scarborough High School one of 61 schools in competition
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

As officers in the Environmental Club of Scarborough, from left, Sorenda Muth, Rachel Hatem, Ashley Eayrs and Allison Bennoch have been leading their classmates in recycling efforts during the Maine Recycles Championship. (Michael Kelley photo) As officers in the Environmental Club of Scarborough, from left, Sorenda Muth, Rachel Hatem, Ashley Eayrs and Allison Bennoch have been leading their classmates in recycling efforts during the Maine Recycles Championship. (Michael Kelley photo) The Red Storm of Scarborough High School is seeing a green future.

Now through the end of April, the Environmental Club of Scarborough and other students in the school are challenging peers in schools across the state in CLYNK’s Maine Recycles Championship.

Clayton Kyle, chief executive officer of CLYNK, said the idea for the competition started when he and his staff realized the way the CLYNK database system is set up it could track redemption totals.

“We realized with that information, we could create a little competitive interest between schools,” Kyle said, while raising the importance of recycling.

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Kyle said of the Maine Recycles Championship. “We didn’t really know what to expect in terms of participation. We are happy with the participation so far.”

As of March 23, the halfway point in the contest, the 61 schools participating had collected 65,000 containers.

The Maine Recycle Championships, Kyle said, is modeled after Hannaford Community Cash, another program CLYNK offers to help non-profits raise money through recycling. To date that program has raised more than $130,000.

While the Environmental Club of Scarborough is leading the effort, several other groups in the school, including the chorus, band boosters, Pink Ribbon breast cancer awareness club, the girls’ tennis team and the senior and freshman classes, have joined the recycling effort.

Senior Rachel Hatem, the environmental club’s vice president, said the club members collect recyclables around the cafeteria and classrooms once a week.

“We each have our own route to go on every Friday, then we bring it all back to one of the classrooms and sort it,” Hatem said.

Allison Bennoch, a junior and president of the environmental club, said overall the high school’s students do a good job keeping recyclable items out of the waste stream. That’s not to say the school couldn’t improve its recycling efforts. To help in that regard, the Environmental Club of Scarborough added an additional club officer this year, Sofia Diaco, who serves as the club’s recycling coordinator.

“I don’t think it’s a problem,” Bennoch said of the school’s participation in recycling, “but a lot of people don’t know how much recycling can help the environment.”

As of April 3, students from Scarborough had recycled 5,655 containers, enough to fill nearly 50 lobster traps. The recycling has saved enough energy to light more than eight light bulbs 24 hours a day for an entire year and the emissions equivalent to driving a car 1,607 miles.

Both Hatem and her fellow senior and club secretary, Ashley Eayrs, said Maine Recycles Championship has helped the club spread awareness about the importance of recycling.

“In the past couple weeks we have seen more bottles and cans being recycled,” Hatem said. “I think people are starting to realize they should be recycling because it’s good for the environment.”

“The whole competitive thing help with that, I think. We are all pretty competitive.” Eayrs said.

According to CLYNK’s website, Americans throw away more than 2 million plastic bottles every hour. Each plastic bottle takes more then 1 million years to decompose.

CLYNK, based in South Portland, started in 2006 to make recycling easier for people. Self-serve CLYNK kiosks are located in 46 Hannaford supermarkets across the state. The Scarborough Hannaford store was the first in the state to have a CLYNK facility.

According to CLYNK, since 2008 the Environmental Club of Scarborough has recycled close to 92,086, or $4,610 worth of recyclable containers. The environmental impact of doing so is the equivalent of saving enough energy to light 132 light bulbs for 24 hours a day for a full year or the emissions equivalent to driving a car 25,064 miles.

Keeping such items out of the waste stream is but one of the roles the environmental club plays in encouraging a more environmentally friendly future for the high school and the town.

Eayrs said the group has also participated in cleanup efforts at town beaches and been involved with municipal issues such as curtailing smoking on beaches and banning synthetic pesticide use on town-owned property and athletic fields.

In fact, Eayrs and Bennoch appeared before the Town Council on Sept. 21, 2011, to urge councilors to amend the town’s Pest Management Policy to require the use of only organic pest management practices.

Although the new policy was adopted that night by a 4-1 vote, with Town Councilor Richard Sullivan voting in opposition, Sullivan has requested that the town loosen the requirement a little bit and adopt an Integrated Pest Management Policy. The policy, if passed, would eliminate the Pest Management Advisory Committee and permit synthetic pesticide use, but only if used by someone licensed by the Maine Board of Pesticides Control and proper notification is posted 48 hours prior to treatment and left in place 72 hours after application. The policy also dictates how the notification signs would look and what information they would include. The notification would be needed for any sort of pesticide treatment, synthetic or organic.

Members of the Environmental Club of Scarborough said they will pay attention to that, but in the meantime they are focusing on climate change. On March 23, the students, along with their peers at the high school attended an Alliance for Climate Education assembly, which club advisor Terri Eddy said opened the students’ eyes about the threat of global warming and climate change.

This spring the Alliance for Climate Education, a national organization, is sponsoring a contest, Biggest Loser: Energy, in which schools across the country compete to see which can reduce its energy consumption the most now through the beginning of May.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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