Hoping to get children more interested in helping to promote a sustainable environment, Mt. Diablo Recycling is asking students in Contra Costa County to demonstrate what they know about recycling and its importance to the environment.

The company, a division of waste management firm Garaventa Enterprises, has launched its first ever recycling contest for elementary, middle and high school students. They believe that having youth share their recycling knowledge and creativity will inspire the greater community to step up their own recycling activities.

"We were talking about how we can inspire kids to teach more so we came up with the recycling contest," said Nicole Impagliazzo, Mt. Diablo Recycling Center's Community Outreach and Public Relations manager.

"We truly believe that if we educate the kids, we can change the community and change the world."

The contest is open to all students in Contra Costa County and was designed to be simple for them to understand. Students must answer the question: "What do you do to inspire your family, your friends and your community to recycle?"

The answer can be submitted in the form of a drawing, essay or video.

The contest was designed with current education core standards in mind, the idea being that entries would involve and demonstrate some critical thinking in explaining what recycling is, how it is done and how the idea inspires others.

Impagliazzo envisions a range of entries, from those that focus on the collection of household recycling materials to others that demonstrate how materials can be repurposed in a useful manner.

"It could be as simple as a first-grader drawing a picture of his room with a box to collect all his papers, to a high school student making a video of building a small playground with wood," she said.

"We're leaving it open for students to use their imaginations and it's a great way for us to learn some wonderful ideas they have as well."

A first, second and third prize will be awarded in each age category: Grades K-5, $300, $150 and $50; Grades 6-8, $300, $150 and $50; and Grades 9-12, $500, $350 and $250.

Winners will be announced at Mt. Diablo Recycling's second annual Funtastic Family Earth Day Event on April 26.

Entries will be judged on creativity, clarity and overall effectiveness of the recycling project by a panel of three judges, including Joseph Garaventa, the CEO of Garaventa Enterprises, and Mt. Diablo Recycling, and Pittsburg Mayor Salvatore Evola.

A third judge has yet to be announced.

The entries will be on display in the Mt. Diablo Recycling Education Center for the Earth Day event.

In keeping with the conservation theme of reducing paper usage, students are being asked to email their entries whenever possible.

Entries can also be brought in or mailed to Mt. Diablo Recycling.

"Part of the reason we're asking students to email is that we're asking them to recycle, and part of recycling is understanding reducing waste," Impagliazzo said.

As with many ideas about knowledge, Mt. Diablo Recycling believes that what students know and practice can spread to families and beyond and that this knowledge can be manifested to influence the entire community.

One of the goals of the contest is to put the spotlight on youth, to recognize them and thank them for recycling.

"Our other goal is to show our communities that students know how to recycle, they know the impacts and they know the benefits," Impagliazzo said.

While recycling is important to residents in East County, Mt Diablo Recycling wants to make it a bigger concern and hopes this contest will increase awareness.

"It's so easy to recycle and there's a lot of talk about going green and sustainability, but I'm not sure if people understand what sustainability actually means," she said.

"So this contest is just one step to teach them that one easy way to help the earth is to recycle."

MORE INFORMATION
Information on tours, the Funtastic Family Earth Day Event and contest entry forms can be found online at www.mtdiablorecycling.com. Completed entries must be submitted by 5 p.m. April 4. The Mt. Diablo Recycling Center is at 1300 Loveridge Road, Pittsburg. Phone 925-682-4518.