August 3rd was Recycle Montana’s last activity session with No Kid Hungry for the summer. We have truly enjoyed working with No Kid Hungry, the volunteers, and the wonderful kids who returned week after week to learn about reducing, reusing, and recycling. Please keep us in mind for next summer!
During a previous session we helped participants create sailboats from their used milk cartons. Milk cartons are not recyclable in East Helena so we decided to give them a new purpose rather than sending them immediately to the landfill. With straws as masts and a variety of materials for sails, these boats navigated the treacherous “Radley Sea” despite the constant threat of lurking pirate ships.
On a serious note, milk cartons are typically not accepted for recycling in Montana and schools generate an incredible volume of these nightmares daily. A school of just 200 students will send up to 36,000 cartons to the local landfill throughout a typical 180-day school year. Switching to plastic milk containers would reduce this amount of trash by allowing for used containers to be recovered and recycled.
Our last session with the kids involved a combination of creative reuse and solar energy education. Participants used empty Pringles potato chip canisters to create solar cookers. We happened to warm marshmallows in our cookers yesterday, but we had a great discussion of different, healthier options they could cook at home. A commercial parabolic solar cooker was also on site to demonstrate the power of the sun on a bigger scale. It took just a few seconds for the activity area to fill with the scent of roasting marshmallows!
Rob Pudner, Recycling Educator