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

2019 Sculpture Contest

The 2019 "Rethink Recycling" Sculpture Contest was held on November 22, 2019 at the Maryland Department of the Environment.  There were 66 entries from 20 different high schools from across the State featured in the contest. 

See pictures of MDE's 2019 sculpture contest winners​

Jorja Rodgers from Century High School in Carroll County was the Grand Prize winner for her sculpture, “Silhouette of Selena,” made using paper and plastic which created a shadow image on a backdrop. She received an Xbox One X Star Wars edition for her efforts.  

The category winners, who received a Sony wireless earbuds were: 

  • CreativityMartina Barber, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for “Kamikaze,” using crayons, paper, cardboard, hair and recycling bins as materials.
  • WorkmanshipCasey Wehrman, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for creating “Body of Distortion,” made of newspaper, cardboard, paper pulp and charcoal..
  • Use of MaterialsAlex Vagnier, Winters Mill High School, Carroll County, for “lDK,” made of a personal computer, lamp, light switch, plexiglass, bottle caps and a waffle iron.
  • People’s ChoiceSam Birkenthal, Towson High School, Baltimore County, for “Six Nineteen”, using only cardboard.
Second place winners, who each received $100 Amazon gift cards, were:
  •  CreativityNikki Hamidi, Northwest High School, Montgomery County, for her work entitled “Caffeine in Color.”
  • WorkmanshipTony Leal, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for crafting “Deer of Reflection.”
  •  Use of MaterialsAllison Johnson, Fort Hill High School, Allegany County, for constructing “Recycled Head.”
  • People’s ChoiceEmily Giffhorn, South Carroll High School, Carroll County, for “Turtley Awesome."
See pictures of MDE's 2019 "Rethink Recycling" Contest 

2019 Participating Schools:

  • Allegany County: Fort Hill High School
  • Anne Arundel County: Broadneck High School, Glen Burnie High School
  • Baltimore City: Archbishop Curley, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
  • Baltimore County: 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: Walkersville High School
  • Garrett County: Southern Garrett High School
  • Harford County: Aberdeen High School, C. Milton Wright High School
  • Howard County: Glenelg Country School
  • Kent County: Kent County High School
  • Montgomery County: Northwest High School
  • Prince George’s County: Suitland High School-Center for Performing Arts
  • St. Mary's County: Leonardtown High School
  • Washington County: North Hagerstown High School

2020 Sculpture Contest

The 19th annual sculpture contest will be held on Friday, November 20, 2020 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 ARD Rules Guideline).  Judges will select a​n 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 laptops.  

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

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


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.

Food Waste Minimization and Related Activities -- A Toolkit for Maryland Schools  


Recycling Websites

Recycling Websites --
for KIDS!