WARRENSBURG - While garbage cans virtually everywhere the U.S. were overflowing with Christmas wrap destined for landfills, many Warrensburg residents' holiday trash was headed for a second life - to be used to keep people warm in winter.
Warrensburg High School environmental science students have launched a holiday wrap collection and recycling effort, and the wrap was destined for shredding and use as home insulation.
The paper collection drive features a competition between Warrensburg Central School faculty and students to amass the most volume of waste wrap.
WCS senior Zach Schuster said he saw an Internet news feed how millions of tons of holiday-season waste is generated annually, and he mentioned it in science class, and the group of juniors and seniors decided to take action.
"I brought in the information, and they ran with it," he said.
As of Jan. 3, the students in John Burns' Environmental Science Class collected enough bags of used Christmas wrap to fill about a quarter of their classroom almost to the ceiling. The scrap holiday wrap the students collected so far was about three times the volume of wrap WCS faculty had collected in the drive, senior Molly-Kate Webster noted.
"When students compete against faculty - like they did during our school's recent canned food drive - they really get involved," she said. "They want the bragging rights over the faculty."
Webster said she was impressed by how many students were participating.
"It's really cool to see people become more aware of environmental issues," she said.
Christmas wrapping paper isn't the only material being recycled at Warrensburg Central.
Burns said the school district has had a recycling program in operation for many years, but it was ramped up recently with plastic bins being placed in each classroom for waste paper.
The paper waste, along with trash cardboard, is then deposited in a bin behind the school, and is picked up by the Green Fiber enterprise, which shreds it into home insulation material after treating it with a fire-retardant.
The Green Fiber outfit pays the school $25 per ton, which not only earns the school some money, but saves even more on avoided disposal costs.
This waste-paper project is in addition to boosted recycling efforts for plastics. Recently, various recyclable plastics have been routinely collected by the science students and delivered to Dean Ackley's Direct Deposit enterprise, and one of his distributors is recycling the plastic, rather than burning it at the trash plant, as is routine in Warren County. Returnable plastic bottles, of course, are redeemed for their deposit.
Meanwhile, the bags of Christmas wrap keep stacking up at Warrensburg Central School, threatening to fill an entire large classroom.
Burns said this student-faculty holiday-wrap challenge has an outcome that is putting him a little on edge.
If the students win, he's promised to participate in a Polar Plunge event during the Lake George Winter Carnival Weekend.
If the faculty wins, a group of students have to take the frigid dip.