Photos by Jane Zeltner
Article by Nora Lowe
You might not spare a second glance at the metal pop tab atop your soda can. But oddly enough, that small piece of metal can be a pretty big deal.
What started as a modest collaboration between the Youth Against Cancer (YAC) Club and the Byram Hills Sustainability Initiative (BHSI) has blossomed into an ongoing, successful, and continually growing project. Essentially, BHHS students and teachers collect the pop tabs from their canned goods and deposit them in a bin in the front hallway outside of the cafeteria. Then, as they accumulate, the contents of the bin are periodically recycled, and the profits are donated to the Ronald McDonald House (RMH). The Ronald McDonald House is a series of centers around the world that provide resources for families of children who are seriously ill. According to their website, “RMH programs help alleviate some financial burdens for families with sick children. We help our families save over $930 million each year in lodging and meal costs alone.”
Jane (Grade 11), the treasurer of the BHSI, explains how the initiative originated: “During the fall of my sophomore year, I came up with the idea to implement the pop tab recycling program in the high school. I have always been recycling pop tabs for the RMH in my house, and thought: why shouldn’t I expand the impact that we are able to create?”. Junior Sammy Glusky joined the initiative this year as the program continued to grow.
They elaborate that the central objective of the project is “to promote recycling while working with the Ronald McDonald House to help families affected by pediatric cancer.”
The especially unique thing about this project is that it embodies the “two birds with one stone” concept, in that participants are able to perform one action while simultaneously benefiting two causes: the fight against cancer, and the fight to save the planet. Speaking to this idea, Jane reflects how “It is amazing that we are able to inspire students and faculty to support two good causes at once. I personally think that the unconventionality of this program is what makes it so exciting and engaging for others to participate in.” Sammy concurs, saying, “I think this initiative is so interesting because you would never think that something as small and easy as recycling the pop tab from your soda can can help both the environment and families suffering from childhood diseases.”
As a visual testament to the project’s success, an entire fish tank has been filled with metal pieces thus far this year.
Ms. Bogren, the BHSI advisor, shared that many teachers bring her their pop tab donations directly. She wanted to express thanks on behalf of the BHSI to some of the major contributors: Mrs. Croke, Mrs. Pierratti, Mr. Gulick, the Gummer family, Mrs. Aday, and Ms. Lewis.
So next time you enjoy a can of soda, or a can of anything for that matter, consider contributing to this important initiative, and you can also enjoy the satisfaction of knowing you helped support two important causes.