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JHS club collects 400 pounds of plastic lids and caps to make recycled benches

Jackson High School’s Interact Club has collected around 400 pounds of plastic caps and lids to be recycled and made into benches.

The Interact Club is a youth service organization at the high school, with around 40 active members. The group is sponsored by the Jackson Rotary Club.

Liza Schell, JHS senior and Interact Club president, said the collection has been a community effort, with students from across the District and Jackson residents donating to the project.

The club collected lids and caps for plastic types 2, 4 and 6 — which includes soda caps, medicine bottle caps, coffee can lids, detergent caps and butter container lids.

She said that the club started collecting plastic last year but made a bigger effort to collect this fall. “When I became president, I wanted to make this a bigger project, so we signed up as a group and we started by sending out an email getting the whole district involved,” Schell said.

Several of the schools started collecting the caps and lids, and they were housed at the District’s central office. “Our bathrooms are running over with trash cans full of plastic,” Jackson R-2 Director of Communication Merideth Pobst said.

In addition, the City of Jackson set up a collection site at the recycling center, which Schell said was a huge help. “There’s a few people there that helped take off caps for us,” she added.

The lids will be sent to Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, IN, where they will be melted and molded into benches. Schell said the club has collected enough plastic to construct two benches, with each taking about 200 pounds to make.

“Our original goal was just one, but we now have enough to make two,” Schell said. ”I want to have one of them at one of the elementary schools that have helped us collect, and I’m hoping the second one can be put at the Jackson City Park.”

The club has stopped collecting plastic for the year, but is now focused on raising funds to purchase the benches. Each bench costs $250, in addition to the donated plastic.

“We are doing some fund-raising at basketball games with bake sales, but it would be nice to also have donations,” Schell said. Donations can be sent to the District’s central office with a note saying it is for the Interact Club.

Schell, who currently is housing many of the lids in her garage, said the project has been much more successful than she expected, and it has helped her grow as a leader.

“I’m not that much of a people person, so putting myself out there for president was a huge deal to me,” Schell said. “And then having this project be my baby, starting it up and it being so successful means a lot to me.”

The project will not end once Schell graduates later this year. She said returning officers have already indicated that they hope to continue the project, meaning people can start saving up lids for next year.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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