By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful Announces America Recycles Day Essay Contest Winners

Celine Houenou of Pharr Elementary School and Mason Havens of Georgia Southern University Take Home the Top Prizes for their Talented Portrayal of the Unsung Heroes of the Recycling Bin 

Duluth – After 17 years of hosting a traditional community recycling drive in observance of Keep America Beautiful’s national initiative – America Recycles Day, Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful (GCB) made the call to alter the course of the celebration slightly with a “novel” idea.

In keeping with its newly unveiled ME Campaign – an acronym that stands for “My Environment” – GCB hoped to foster a sense of pride and personal responsibility among local citizens, families, neighbors, businesses, civic groups, area schools and organizations. That’s why in October 2015, the environmentally focused nonprofit issued a call for a one-page “Sidekick Story” essay contest in which the writer of the essay had to address one of four unsung superheroes of the recycling bin – Paper, Plastic, Cardboard and Aluminum, placing themselves in the role of sidekick to tell the all-important tale of their favorite hero. From among dozens of entries that arrived at GCB’s offices in Duluth in time for America Recycles Day on November 15, the original essays by these two talented students were selected:

• Elementary/Middle School Prize Winner – Celine Houenou: A 5th grader at Pharr Elementary School, Celine’s creative story involved a team of recyclable superheroes rescuing other recyclables from the trash can. She dubbed herself “Clean Celine” as the sidekick that helped Paper Pete, Cardboard Callie, Plastic Bottle Polly, and Aluminum Can Allison to rescue recyclables from Garbage Grace. At the end of the story, Garbage Grace was transformed to Gracious Grace because she now understood that recycling is the right thing to do. For her efforts and creativity, Grace will be presented with a $100 prize.

• Grand Prize Winner – Mason Havens: A student at Georgia Southern University, Mason wrote a compelling narrative detailing how the Greek organizations at his school are working together to create community change by recycling cans and bottles. In his essay, Mason explained that not all superheroes wear capes. Instead, the superhero of this story was a can or bottle that gave his fellow college students the opportunity to work together and make a difference. For his efforts and creativity, Mason will be presented with a $250 prize.

“To celebrate America Recycles Day over the course of the last 17 years, we have been primarily focused on collecting recyclables during a one-day event at the Recycling Bank of Gwinnett,” explains Connie Wiggins, Executive Director for Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful. “While those events have always been met with great success, we wanted to do something a little different and more impactful this year. Recycling is a process that starts when we buy a product and ends with us buying a product made from recycled materials. With that in mind, we hoped to educate and motivate others to affect a positive change – whether at home, at school, at work or out there in the world. Instead of just one day, we had countless people thinking about recycling for more than a month. And when we read all of the wonderful submissions we received, we knew we made the right choice. We need help getting the word out on so many levels. It’s not just about the environment, recycling has an economic impact, as well. We have to be more conscientious about recycling materials that are wanted and needed by Georgia manufacturers.  Thanks to this contest and GCB’s ongoing efforts, the message that recycling is the right thing to do for our community, our economy AND our environment is definitely spreading – and THAT is what America Recycles Day is all about!”

About Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful:  Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful Services, Inc. (GCB) is a Keep America Beautiful affiliate and award-winning 501(c)(3) charitable organization. It boasts an expansive community-based network dedicated to finding long-term solutions to environmental and quality of life issues through individual action. The organization is guided by a 55-member Citizens Advisory Board that represents all sectors of the Gwinnett County community. A nationally recognized leader in creating cleaner, greener and more livable communities throughout Gwinnett, GCB involves more than 100,000 volunteers annually to clean and restore public places, recycle more, protect watersheds and develop the next generation of environmental stewards.  

To learn more about Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful, please visit www.GwinnettCB.org.