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Officials work to mold kids into recyclers

POSTED: April 5, 2009 10:10 p.m.

Everyone can do their part to keep more re-usable products out of overflowing landfills, even preschoolers.

As part of the Great American Cleanup, Keep Jackson County Beautiful officials have launched a new recycling campaign to help even the youngest students understand what recycling is all about.

The Great American Cleanup is an initiative through the Keep America Beautiful organization and is dubbed the “nation’s largest community improvement program.” The annual event, which runs from March through May, challenges individuals to do things to make their community better, such as litter pickups, tree planting and conducting recycling events.

“We’ve launched this new crayon recycling campaign within the schools,” said Susan Trepagnier, executive director of Keep Jackson County Beautiful. “It’s a good way to break down the idea of recycling for students.”

Trepagnier said after making presentations in area elementary schools about recycling, she discovered students in third grade and higher tend to understand, but concept is still a mystery for younger students.

“With the younger kids, they hear the word ‘recycle,’ but they don’t know what it really means,” said Trepagnier.

“They know you throw things in a bin and someone comes and takes the bin away, but they don’t understand what happens after that.”

Each Thursday during April and May, students will be asked to put broken crayons in designated recycling bins at their school, which will be collected by Keep Jackson County Beautiful staff.

“For the first (month) we’re going to take the old crayons, sort them by colors, then melt them down and pour them into candy molds to make new crayons,” Trepagnier said.

“We’re then going to take the new crayons and give them back to the students to use, so that they can see what became of their old crayons.”

By giving the students new crayons made from their old art supplies, Trepagnier said she hopes that it will help the students to better understand the process of recycling.

After the first month, Trepagnier will be sending the broken crayons to The Crayon Lady.

The Crayon Lady, also known as LuAnn Foty, runs a national crayon recycling program.

In the 16 years that she has been running the program, The Crayon Lady estimates that she has collected more than 42,000 pounds of crayons — that’s more than 4 million individual crayons — which she then melts and molds into new crayons in various shapes.



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