By STEVEN NALLEY
It’s a mistake to leave the cap on a bottle of water when throwing it in the recycling bin.
Renee Clary, director of Mississippi State University’s Dunn-Seiler Museum, said the bottle and its cap may both be plastic, but the cap’s plastic is harder and cannot be shredded and recycled with the bottle. Very few companies can recycle the bottle caps even when they are separated, she said, and most of them end up in a landfill.
“It requires more resources to sort (bottles and caps) before they’re recycled, and usually what happens is the whole thing is just pitched and it’s not sorted at all,” Clary said. “People think, ‘Well, I can recycle my bottles, so I’m just going to leave the bottle cap on the bottle and it’s all going to get recycled.’ That’s incorrect. People think they’re recycling, but it’s not really helpful.”
To raise awareness of the environmental hazards bottle caps present, the Dunn-Seiler Museum hosted “A Billion Acts of Green,” in which students devised creative new uses for old bottle caps as one of several activities MSU had slated for Earth Week 2012.
The winning creations from “A Billion Acts of Green” were displayed Friday at MSU’s Earth Day celebration on the promenade between Colvard Student Union and Perry Cafeteria. Entrants came from Greenwood, Starkville, Tupelo, Jackson and Grenada, Clary said, and they were divided into elementary and middle school categories. Winning creations included a full-size guitar, coasters and a memo holder shaped like a dog.
“We had over 90 entries,” Clary said. “Last year we had over 100; this year we’re not too far behind. We had fewer entries this year than we had in the water bottle competition, but we had more participating schools, so that was good.”
The competition is a sequel to a similar competition the Dunn-Seiler Museum held for Earth Day 2011, Clary said, in which students crafted their creations with plastic bottles instead of caps.
“We asked Mississippi students to think about drinking tap water instead of bottled water (and) using a reusable container instead of constantly throwing away plastic,” Clary said. “The competition was such a success that we’ve decided to do it every year now. This year, we have a partner in sponsoring the contest, and that’s Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi.”
Gaining Ground also had a presence at the Earth Day Celebration with a commemoration of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, said Tyler Russell, a student volunteer with Students for a Sustainable Campus. Called the “Black Out,” participants wore black to call attention to lingering issues with the oil spill in conjunction with students from Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia and other states near the Gulf of Mexico, he said.
“Shortly after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, there was legislation to prevent oil spills from happening in the future,” Russell said. “We’re just trying to call attention to the fact that a few years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, no legislation has been passed.
We want to remind congressmen we still care about that, to restore the Gulf Coast.”
Russell said SSC also hosted a campus-wide bike ride touring such environmentally friendly sites as the MSU landscape architecture building’s sustainable garden and LEEDS-certified sororities.
“They went to the Sanderson Center, where the architecture students have structures made from reclaimed wood,” Russell said. “(They took) bleachers they weren’t using any more and reused the wood, recycled it, to make benches.”
Monday through Wednesday, Russell said, SSC teamed with Gaining Ground to show several environmentalist documentaries. Finally, the Earth Day celebration on Friday hosted several guest organizations, including Nucor, Starkville in Motion and Beaverdam Fresh Farms in Indianola.
Russell said there are no activities planned for Earth Day itself, Sunday, April 22.
“We’re a student group trying to engage students, so most of our activities are during the week,” Russell said. “Also, (we have) Super Bulldog Weekend.”
The winners of “A Billion Acts of Green” this year are:
First place: Willie McCaleb (guitar), Davis Elementary School, Greenwood.
Second place: Desirae Walls (Flower pot), Davis Elementary School, Greenwood.
Third place: Michael Corkern and Sammy Indest (art) St. Richard School, Jackson.
Honorable Mention: Cheryl Macke (art) St. Richard School, Jackson; Kurtina Coates (robot) Davis Elementary School, Greenwood; Lynda Martinez & Dylan Smith (art on wood), St. Richard School, Jackson.
Middle School Division:
First place: Ms. Lynch’s seventh grade science class (coasters), Tupelo Middle School.
Second place: Seth Lee (Memo Dog), Starkville Academy.
Third place: Morgan Gill (ecocap thread protector) Starkville Academy.
Honorable Mention: Austin Brown (green caps – magnets) Starkville Academy; Kacey Favor (tic-tac-toe game) Starkville Academy; Caleb Griffen (clean hands) Starkville Academy; Noah Heflin (rain harvester) Starkville Academy; Cody Horne (back scratcher) Grenada Middle School; Ryan Mikel (Party ball), Starkville Academy; Maris Morehead (watch), Starkville Academy; Gwyen Sutphin (jeweled cross), Starkville Academy; Allen Wyatt (salt shaker) Starkville Academy; Colin Wall (fishing lure); Starkville Academy.