Read, recycle

November 29, 2011

Reading and recycling, two important topics for our young people, have been front and center recently.

Margaret McGill, a C. Milton Wright student, won a Nook Color after finishing first in the workmanship category of the "Rethink Recycling" sculpture contest hosted recently by the Maryland Department of the Environment. She sculpted an angler fish, using CDs, nails and light bulbs. What's important isn't so much what she created, or what she won, as that there's a program to challenge young people to think differently about recycling in their lives.

Obviously, not all recyclables can be turned into sculptures. But perhaps such an exercise will spark the kind of creativity that will one day find a different use for recycling and, ultimately, help deal with the eternal stream of refuse we all create.

"If not for the creativity and energy of these students, the materials used to make these sculpture would have ended up as trash that pollutes our air, land and water," Robert M. Summers, MDE secretary, wrote in a press release announcing the winners. "I applaud all the teachers and students … for doing their part to promote environmental protection by turning everyday trash into beautiful works of art."

Our planet can only handle so much trash and one day, whenever that might be, it will approach a tipping point that just can't be ignored. "Rethink Recycling" is one way to get the next generation of leaders to not only understand the importance of reducing the waste stream, but also to realize that recycling will be a reality to them for the rest of their lives.

Reading, though perhaps not as fashionable a topic, is another fundamental reality for young people. As it's been for everyone, no matter the era, so will it be for future generations, whether they want to accept it as a truism or not.

In part, to symbolize the importance of childhood literacy, the Harford County Public Library recently spent about $5,800 for a sculpture outside the Bel Air branch. The piece of art called "Maxey and Me" is of a boy sitting on a bench, reading a book with his dog sprawled patiently across his lap. The boy is holding the book with his left hand and petting his dog with his right.

"Early literacy has always been near and dear to my heart," Mary Hastler, the director of the Harford County Public Library, said recently.


It's nearly impossible to envision any kind of happy, successful lives for future generations without reading and recycling. And anything we adults can do to help young people realize that is a good thing.

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