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By STEVEN NALLEY
When it comes to recycling, fourth graders are not without a sense of irony, if Garrett Posey and Zachary Thompson at Union Elementary are any indication.
The two built a recycling bin out of used water bottles as part of â€śA Billion Acts of Green,â€ť a competition among K-12 students across Mississippi to see who can come up with the most creative way to reuse non-recyclable plastic bottles. Other entries in the competition, hosted by the Dunn-Seiler Museum at Mississippi State University, include a wearable dress made from bottles and duct tape, desk organizers, piggy banks, flower vases, maracas, a doll, a purse and a night light.
Renee Clary, director of the museum, said sheâ€™s glad sheâ€™s not one of the competitionâ€™s judges.
â€śTrying to pick a winner between a recycling bin made of water bottles and a bracelet made from a Coca-Cola bottle would be unimaginable for me,â€ť Clary said. â€śWe were really surprised. We offered this competition just in the middle of the month, and we didnâ€™t expect to get so many responses. We were overwhelmed.â€ť
The Dunn-Seiler Museum will feature the winners of â€śA Billion Acts of Greenâ€ť at MSUâ€™s Earth Day Fair, where the museum will be just one of several environmental organizations represented. Originally planned for MSUâ€™s Old Main Plaza, the fair has moved to 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of the Colvard Student Union due to high chances of inclement weather.
The MSU Environmental Collaborative Office, MSU Students for a Sustainable Campus, and Green Starkville are organizing this third annual Earth Day Fair. The fair will cap a week of lectures, tours, film screenings, and exhibits at MSU in observance of Earth Day.
Nisreen Cain, president and co-founder of Green Starkville, said the purpose of the event was to bring together environmental organizations from both the campus and the community. One example, she said, was a student fund-raiser that would benefit Starkvilleâ€™s public schools.
â€śWe have limited edition Earth Day T-shirts,â€ť Cain said. â€śStudents are selling them to raise funds for recycling programs at local schools. Green Starkville brought about 13 recycling containers to the high school a few weeks ago, but they need more.â€ť
Cain said the event would also help MSU students learn about careers that advance environmental welfare and teach other visitors about environmentally friendly lifestyles. For instance, she said, Green Starkville would demonstrate recycling procedures, and both Perry Cafeteria and the Templeton Athletic Academic Center would serve vegan and vegetarian food.
â€śVegetarian foods are more sustainable,â€ť Cain said. â€śThey donâ€™t consume as much energy to bring green vegetables to the table as it does to bring beef or chicken. TVA will have information about alternative energy options that residents in Starkville can look into, and thatâ€™s in partnership with the Starkville Electric Department.â€ť
Jeremiah Dumas, director of MSUâ€™s Environmental Collaborative Office, said another recent effort MSU is making to address environmental issues is a recycling program that replaced most office trash receptacles with recycling bins.
â€śWe did a trial here on campus and realized that 90 percent of office waste was recyclable material,â€ť Dumas said. â€śThe key with this is that the contractor sorts these items at their facilities. If someone puts something in these receptacles that doesnâ€™t belong in there, itâ€™s not that big of an issue.â€ť
Dumas said MSU has also been implementing a campus wide recycling program over the past 8-9 months. He said it was all an effort to meet the pledge MSU made to pursue carbon neutrality when President Mark Keenum signed the American Colleges and Universities Presidential Climate Commitment.
â€śWeâ€™re just at the beginning phases,â€ť Dumas said. â€śLast year was our first baseline year, so we know where we are now.
We donâ€™t have a set plan; thatâ€™s what weâ€™re working now to do, but weâ€™re definitely looking at a 40- to 50- year process.â€ť