Recycling may be a chic way of protecting Mother Earth, but for students at Benjamin Cardozo High School, it’s also an easy way to win some money.
Students in one class took part in a contest to create artwork out of recycled milk cartons.
The project was part of the Made by Milk contest sponsored by Evergreen Packaging, a Tennessee-based carton manufacturer that uses the competition to promote recycling and repurposing milk cartons.
“We want to encourage milk consumption and ecofriendly benefits of milk cartons,” said Katie Lewis, marketing manager for Evergreen Packaging. “Also, we want to promote recycling and upcycling.”
Cardozo was one of dozens of schools nationwide to take part in the contest, which is held twice a year. The Bayside school took part in a fall contest as well.
Kim Salisbury, who teaches art at Cardozo, said they found out about the project through the school’s sustainability coordinate Yvette Bohlman.
“We had short notice last fall,” Salisbury said. “But we decided to take part. I had started using recycled materials already in my class so when I saw this, I jumped on it. The students were a little skeptical at first, but they grew to enjoy it.”
The school’s project last fall put them in third place. They decided to aim for the top this time.
The theme of the spring contest was “stories,” and Salisbury’s class spent weeks tossing around ideas. Their original concept was the fairy tale “Rapunzel,” but they later decided on “Alice in Wonderland.”
It took three weeks to collect the cartons and another two weeks to build the artwork, which includes a statue of Alice herself and several notable figures from the famous story, including a clock and large flowers.
Salisbury said volunteers came to help work on the project along with two of her sculpture classes. The news that they had won the $5,000 grand prize was met with much excitement.
“We were ecstatic,” Salisbury said. “The kids worked so hard on it.”
“The students put so much work and ingenuity into building their milk carton creation, and learned valuable eco-friendly practices, such as repurposing and recycling, that can be carried out in their everyday lives,” Bohlman added.
As a result of taking part in the project, Cardozo has created a class solely focused on art created from repurposed and recycled materials.
And, according to Salisbury, members of the school community, including teachers, students, administration and parents, are already preparing for next semester’s contest.
“The whole school community has caught the bug in recycling,” she said. “People are still sending me stuff. My office is full of cartons.”