Education and Outreach



Green Strategies for Managing Materials

outreach waste pyrimid.jpgBy following the three R’s, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, you are helping to create a more sustainable future for our planet!

REDUCE – Waste prevention (a.k.a. source reduction​) is the #1 way to decrease the impact trash has on the environment. Simply stop waste before it happens! Buy in bulk and only what is needed. Cut impulse buying, reduce the use of single-use plastics in your life, and plan ahead when buying perishable foods that will go to waste if not used within a short period of time.  

REUSE ​– Finding creative ways to reuse items for their intended purpose is next on the materials management hierarchy for the best way to reduce the impact trash has on the environment. Glass jars, for example, can be used to store items and for multiple other purposes.  Old t-shirts can become rags. Clothes, books, furniture, and toys can be donated for others’ use. Excess food can be donated to nonprofits. When you must buy, try to purchase products made from recycled materials.

RECYCLE – Rethink Recycling.  Third on the materials management hierarchy is to properly recycle at home, school, and work. Recycling reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. For example, over the full life cycle of a product, recycling 1 ton of

  • ​mixed paper is the equivalent of conserving 169 gallons of gasoline and removing the annual emissions from 415 gallons of gasoline;
  • mixed plastics is the equivalent of conserving 328 gallons of gasoline and removing the annual emissions from 118 gallons of gasoline;
  • mixed metals is the equivalent of conserving 555 gallons of gasoline and removing the annual emissions from 496 gallons of gasoline;
  • mixed glass is the equivalent of conserving 20 gallons of gasoline and removing the annual emissions from 33 gallons of gasoline; and
  • mixed organics is the equivalent to removing the annual emissions from 42 gallons of gasoline versus the landfilling of the materials. Additionally, composted organic material produces a soil amendment that can be added to soil to enrich it for growing healthy plants. 

 Recycling programs are always evolving and you should check with your local recycling program to ensure you comply with your local guidelines to recycle what is accepted, and clean. Failure to follow local recycling program guidelines (e.g., no plastic bags or other “tanglers!,” etc.) may result in contaminating the materials in your bin. Contamination costs your local government money and can cause us to miss out on the environmental benefits of recycling.

Please join us at the Maryland Department of Environment as we encourage residents and businesses alike to not only recycle more, but also to recycle correctly. Our Rethink Recycling information social media campaign is underway and culminates with America Recycles Day, November 15, 2019.  Please follow, like, and repost our messages on facebook, twitter, and instagram​. #RETHINKRECYCLEMD.  Here is an example: “What if Every Family in America Could Recycle?” 


America Recycles Day (ARD)

 ARD is a national event (November 15th) that promotes recycling, source reduction and buying products made from recycled materials as objectives to a more sustainable society. In celebration of ARD, MDE has created the “Rethink Recycling” sculpture contest and judging ceremony to display students’ creativity and promote recycling.  The sculpture contest and judging ceremony is a great opportunity for celebrating efforts of the student artists, for media exposure and for promoting waste prevention to the general public. The sculpture contest challenges students to innovatively and artistically use recycled materials as a solution to waste reduction.  If you would like more information about ARD, visit the America Recycles Day's web page. 


"Rethink Recycl​ing" Sculpture Contest

​2019 Sculpture Contest (November 22, 2019)

Montgomery Park Auditorium
1800 Washington Blvd. Baltimore MD  21230

Schedule of Events

10:00  Doors open

10:15  Welcome from Maryland Department of the Environment

10:20  Opening remarks 

12:00  People's C​h​oice judging ends

12:30  Award presentation begins

1:00    Contest ends

The 18th annual sculpture contest will be held on Friday, November 22, 2019 at the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) in Baltimore.  MDE would like to extend this invitation to high school students.  Two entries will be accepted from each high school (additional entries may become available later).  The contest gives students the chance to be inventive and create a sculpture made from recyclable or reused materials (see Guidelines).  Judges will select an overall winning sculpture along with individual recognition for creativity, workmanship and use of materials.  Additionally, a “People’s Choice Award” is given.  Past contests received national recognition and television news airtime.  Prizes provided from corporate and non-profit organization sponsors will be awarded to all contest entrants. Past prizes have included items such as gift cards, tablets and an HP Envy X360 Laptop.  

Space is limited so please submit the School Entry Form to confirm your school’s participation by October 25, 2019.  The Individual Entry Form(s) should be submitted to MDE by November 8, 2019, once the participants are selected.

For more information regarding the "Rethink Recycling" Sculpture Contest, please contact Christy Bujnovszky at or at 410-537-4190.

 2018 Sculpture Contest

The 2018 "Rethink Recycling" Sculpture Contest was held on November 30, 2018 at the Maryland Department of the Environment.  There were 62 entries from 23 different high schools from across the State featured in the contest. 

Mary Garrison from South Carroll High School in Carroll County was the Grand Prize winner for her sculpture, “Golden Mare,” made using a gold metal objects, necklaces, cardboard, wire, and a drawer handle. She received a Dell Laptop plus Wacom Ink Smart Stylus for her efforts.  

The category winners, who received a JBL Bluetooth Speakers and wireless headsets were:


  • CreativityHuy Nguyen, Towson High School, Baltimore County, for “The Face of Hoy,” using cardboard.
  • WorkmanshipJocelyn Schoch, Southern Garrett High School, Garrett County, for creating “Flying Freedom,”  made of steel wool, wire, wood, foam, soda cans, plastic bags, and CDs.
  • Use of Materials: Stephanie Zulak, Joppatowne High School, Harford County, for “Cirque de Corbeille​” a sculpture created using cassette tapes, rope, spoons, crayons, discarded jewelry, coffee filters, K-Cups, pill bottles, trash bags, and marker lids.
  • People’s ChoiceAdrianna Wood, Century High School, Carroll County, for crafting “Screw it’ I’m going to L.A.,” made of screws.
Second place winners, who each received $100 Amazon gift cards, were:
  •  CreativityPatricia Ezeji, Patapsco High School, Baltimore County, for her work entitled “Terry the Peacock​,” using wood, school papers, plastic bottles, and an old pair of jeans.
  • Workmanship: Kun Feng, Towson High School, Baltimore County, for crafting “Cardboard Phoenix,” made of cardboard.
  •  Use of MaterialsMeghan Martin and Khelsa Connolly, Linganore High School, Frederick County, for constructing “Sole Surfer,” made from old running shoes.
  • People’s ChoiceRayven Dears, Suitland Hill School, Prince George's County, for “Seraph​,” a sculpture made of glass beads, wire, and wood.
See pictures of MDE's 2018 "Rethink Recycling" Contest 

2018 Participating Schools:

  • Allegany County: Fort Hill High School
  • Anne Arundel County: Arundel High School, Broadneck High School
  • Baltimore County: Garrison Forest School, Jemicy Upper School, Patapsco High School & Center for the Arts, Towson High School
  • Carroll County: Century High School, South Carroll High School, Winters Mill High School
  • Frederick County: Linganore High School, Urbana High School, Walkersville High School
  • Garrett County: Southern Garrett High School
  • Harford County: Aberdeen High School, C. Milton Wright High School, Joppatowne High School
  • Howard County: Glenelg Country School
  • Kent County: Kent County High School
  • Montgomery County: Northwest High School
  • Queen Anne's County: Kent Island High School
  • Prince George’s County: Suitland High School-Center for Performing Arts
  • Washington County: Smithsburg High School


In the Classroom

Some Counties offer various displays, presentations and demonstrations that travel to schools and events. Staff provides educational presentations to elementary, middle and high school students. Contact your County Coordinator to schedule a presentation.

MDE can offer educators copies of interdisciplinary activity lessons for Grades K-9. The activity lessons cover topics such as recycling, source reduction, landfills, composting, reuse, ecosystem, cycles, hazardous waste, and buy recycled. The lessons use a variety of skills and address the subjects of science, math, social studies, language arts, environmental education, art, and English. Contact MDE to receive these activities.


Recycling Websites

Recycling Websites --
for KIDS!