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Tina Casey, 908-527-4346




Elizabeth – From a worm café to a science lab made from recycled bottles, five schools have been awarded the first grants under the Union County Green Grant program. The theme of the grants was “Radical Recycling.”

The Green Grant program was started in 2008 by Union County Freeholder Angel G. Estrada as part of the county’s Go Green initiative.

“I would like to congratulate the awardees, and also to extend my appreciation to all of the schools that submitted applications,” said Estrada. “With your creativity and can-do spirit, you have all shown that a little goes a long way when it comes to going green.”

The Green Grant program provides funding of up to $1,000 for environmental projects proposed by students.

“These students are models for us all to follow,” said Estrada. “They are leading the way to show how we can become more responsible stewards of the earth’s resources.”

The grants were distributed at an awards ceremony at Magnet High School in Scotch Plains today.

The five winning school projects show how to keep materials such as food waste, books and worn-out sneakers out of the general waste stream:

Carl H. Kumpf Middle School in Clark was awarded $546 for equipment and worms to start a worm composting program, dubbed the “Worm Café.” Students will learn how worms can break down food scraps and convert them into valuable compost material that will be used on their school grounds.

Valley Road School in Clark was awarded $977 to collect used CD’s, video tapes and game cartridges, and send them to a recycling company that specializes in electronic waste.

Roselle Park High School was awarded $1,000 to purchase state-of-the-art lab equipment for use in its Learning Lean-To. This outdoor environmental center will be constructed primarily from recycled Snapple bottles and other salvaged construction materials.

Magnet High School in Scotch Plains was awarded $1,000 to start a sneaker recycling project in conjunction with the National Nike Reuse-a-Shoe program. The entire school will collect worn or unwanted sneakers which will be recycled for use as playground resurfacing material.

McKinley Elementary School in Westfield was awarded $1,000 to start a recycling program for children’s book and to create book marks out of recycled paper. The books and bookmarks will be put in recycled gift boxes and bags, and presented to Head Start of East Harlem for distribution.

The Green Grant program will continue this year as part of the 2009 Go Green II initiative recently adopted by the Freeholder Board. All elementary and high schools in Union County are eligible. Applications for 2009 grants, when available, will be sent to school district superintendents.

For more information on recycling and budget-wise green tips in Union County, visit