Recycle - make a difference


I’m turning caps and lids into a park bench or possibly a picnic table. This is an ongoing recycling project that the Salem High School Science club has taken on and I’m really excited by it.

According to Mr. McCurdy, science teacher and science club sponsor, “Thus far we have diverted about 4 full size pickup truck loads filled to roof level with plastic that has not gone to our landfill.”

I have a special fondness for the science club that I was once president of. I’m excited to be able to give back to the club and help light a fire for students to be community minded.

I try to be a good steward of the land and recycle. I’m not a fanatic about it but I do collect paper and cardboard and deliver it to the local collection site on Joseph Street. I hate it when the tubs get full, especially the paper one because it’s heavy. So admittedly I don’t empty them as often as I should and some paper might get in the trash during these times but I try.

The cardboard collecting, however, has become almost a compulsive behavior. When someone throws a cardboard box into the trash, I instinctively pull it out (if it’s not too gross because I still have some constraints), make it flat and add it to the stack.

I also try to save aluminum cans for a co-worker who also collects the cans from work. I don’t have enough to benefit taking them to a recycling center so I am glad to collect them for him.

The caps have been a recent addition. We drink a lot of milk, use gallons of distilled water for medical purposes in addition to caps from medicine bottles and Bailey’s drink of choice is a bottle of caffeine free diet coke so we have lots of caps from them. Now they are being used to make something new.

I think that is why I’m excited to save caps because there is a tangible product that results from my (our) recycling efforts.

I took my second grocery bag of caps to the high school recently and after checking out the recycled bench in the school hallway, asked how many caps did it take to make this one bench.

My friend and school counselor, Jennifer Martin forwarded me a letter from Mr. McCurdy that answered my inquiry. He said they collected about 800 pounds of caps and lids to make the two benches.

The current goal is 1000 pounds for a picnic table. They currently have 531 pounds of lids in safekeeping. McCurdy said, “The caps are currently being stored in Mr. Calhoun’s barn where they are being guarded by some very aggressive attack cows.”

The collection will continue throughout the summer and into the fall when they hope to take a truckload to Evansville for processing.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress but in the meantime get on the bandwagon and help build a picnic table.

Here’s a list of acceptable caps:

• Medicine bottle caps

• Milk jug caps

• Laundry detergent caps

• Hair spray caps

• Toothpaste tube caps

• Deodorant caps

• Coffee creamer caps

• Drink bottle caps

• Flip-top caps (like for ketchup)

• Spout caps (like for mustard)

• Spray paint caps

• Ointment tube caps

• Orange juice caps

• Shampoo caps

• Cottage cheese/sour cream/dip lids

• Mayonnaise/peanut butter jar lids

• Ice cream bucket lids

• 5-gallon bucket lids

• Dry coffee creamer lids

• Nut can lids

• Cool Whip tub lids

• Coffee can lids

• Cream cheese lids

• Butter/shortening tub lids

• Any lid stamped with a 2, 4 or 5 in a recycling triangle

These items won’t work:

• Anything with metal

• Drink bottles (save the caps!)

• Plastic Ziplock bags

• Fast food drink lids

• Trash of any kind

• Food containers

• Soap/lotion pumps


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