McLean challenges students to recycle

McLean High promotes plastic recycling with new challenge


A few examples of plastic items that are accepted by the challenge. All plastic must be clean. Infographic courtesy of Kate Hoefer

Lia Vincenzo, Reporter

McLean High School is joining forces with Trex Decking to help lessen the amount of plastic waste in the community. Trex decking is a company that builds decks from 95% repurposed materials, including wood and plastic. Their challenge pits schools against each other in a bid to recycle the most plastic. Final tallies of the plastic collected are due on April 15 and the winner will be announced on Earth Day.

“I plan on continuing to collect plastics at the school after that point, though, as plastic waste is a major problem in the world, and we should all do what we can,” AP Environmental teacher Kate Hoefer said.

Trex will award the winning school a bench made of the materials that they helped collect. All participating schools will receive a participation award and the knowledge that they have helped their planet. 

“It sounds corny, but I feel like the biggest prize is the one of feeling like you’re doing something to help the environment.  Like I always tell people, every little thing counts,” Hoefer said.

The program collects all types of plastic waste, not just plastic bags. This includes bubble wrap, shipping bags, newspaper sleeves, plastic bottles, and that ziplock your lunch was in. If its plastic, the program will accept it. The only stipulation is that it must be clean. So take the extra two seconds and rinse it out with water.

“I can’t accept, for example, the dirty greasy ziplock bag that your potato chips were in.  That kind of thing would need to be wiped with a cloth and dried before bringing in (also easy),” Hoefer said.

If any students are still unsure over what materials can be donated, Ms. Hoefer is giving away magnets with the materials that can be recycled listed on them. 

“It’s good to have that reminder on your fridge at home.  And it would be good for me not to have upwards of 300 magnets sitting on my work desk at school,” Hoefer said.

There are drop off locations in the school where students can leave the plastic that they have gathered.

“There are boxes in three locations in the school.  One is in my room (Y200), one in the teacher mailroom, and one in Frau Wolpert’s room,” Hoefer said.

This challenge is a great way for students to realize the amount of plastic waste in their everyday lives and how easy it is to recycle it instead of throwing it in the trash.

“As a society, the best thing that we can do is reduce the amount of waste we produce.  However, the waste that we already have isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so if there is a way to recycle, then why not do it,” Hoefer said. “It’s easy to throw things away, but it’s equally easy to collect them and stick them in a box here at school to be recycled.”

For more information about Trex Decking, click here.