Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (November 18, 2011) – Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers today awarded prizes for a larger-than-life portrait of Lady Gaga and depictions of a fish, a great blue heron, and a giraffe – all made from reused materials – at the 10th annual "Rethink Recycling" Sculpture Contest, hosted by MDE.

The contest challenges Maryland high school students to use recycled materials to create artistic and innovative sculptures. This year 65 entries from 29 different high schools across the State were on display. A complete list of participating schools is at the end of the release.

"Maryland citizens and businesses prevent about 40 percent of our waste from going into landfills and incinerators by recycling, which helps to save energy and reduce green house gas emissions," said MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers.  "If not for the creativity and energy of these students, the materials used to make these sculptures would have ended up as trash that pollutes our air, land and water.  I applaud all the teachers and students here today for doing their part to promote environmental protection by turning everyday trash into beautiful works of art."

Sponsors who donated prizes, funding, and refreshments for this year’s contest were:  Giant Food, Constellation Energy, Maryland, Delaware, DC Beverage Association, The American Visionary Art Museum, The American Cleaning Institute, e-Structors, Inc., Maryland Recycling Network, Waste Management Inc., Lori Scozzofava, and Rehrig Pacific Company.

Contest judges tasked with determining the winners of the contest based on creativity, use of materials, and workmanship included program director and on-air personality John Klug from 100.7 The Bay FM, working artist and retired art teacher Barbara L. Cox, and MDE Secretary Summers.

Amber Robinson from Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore City won the grand prize for her portrait of Lady Gaga, made from soda bottle caps, utensils, and compact discs.  She received an iPad 2.

The category winners, who each received a Nook Color, were:

  • Creativity: Crystal Blackwood, South Carroll High School, Carroll County, for building a giraffe towering over six feet high, made from records, compact discs, PVC pipe, and cardboard.
  • Workmanship: Margaret McGill, C. Milton Wright High School, Harford County, for creating an anglerfish using compact discs, nails, and light bulbs.
  • Use of Materials: Olivia Borum, South Carroll High School, Carroll County, for designing a miniature dress made of reused puzzle pieces and buttons.
  • People’s Choice Category: Lauren Johnson, Smithsburg High School, Washington County, for crafting a great blue heron made from chicken wire and zip ties.

Second place winners in all four categories received refurbished laptop computers donated by sponsor, e-Structors.

“Encouraging recycling – in our homes and in our workplaces – is an important part of the cleaning product industry’s sustainability efforts,” said Brian Sansoni, Vice President of Communication at the American Cleaning Institute. “Events like ‘Rethink Recycling’ truly make recycling an art form.”

Since 2001, MDE has celebrated America Recycles Day by hosting the annual “Rethink Recycling” Sculpture Contest. High school students from across Maryland are invited to participate by creating sculptures made of recycled and reusable materials. “Rethink Recycling” is just one way MDE educates and empowers the public to reuse and recycle materials that would have otherwise gone into landfills. To find out what you can do to reduce, reuse, recycle, and buy recycled products, visit MDE’s recycling web page.

America Recycles Day, traditionally celebrated on November 15, is a national event that unites business, environmental and civic groups, and local, state, and federal government agencies to promote recycling, source reduction, and the purchase of products made from recycled materials as a means to a more sustainable society.


Participating High Schools

  • Anne Arundel

    Old Mill High School

  • Baltimore City

    Digital Harbor High School

  • Baltimore County

    Mount de Sales Academy, Parkville High School, Redeemer Classical Christian School, Sparrows Point High School

  • Carroll County

    Century High School, Liberty High School, South Carroll High School, Westminster High School

  • Calvert County

    Huntingtown High School

  • Frederick County

    Linganore High School, Middletown High School, Urbana High School, Walkersville High School

  • Garrett County

    Northern Garrett County High School, Southern Garrett County High School

  • Harford County

    C. Milton Wright High School

  • Howard County

    Glenelg Country School, Reservior High School

  • Montgomery County

    Albert Einstein High School, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, Northwest High School, Northwood High School

  • Prince George’s County

    Charles Herbert Flowers High School, DeMatha Catholic High School, Suitland High School-Center for Performing Arts

  • Washington County

    Smithsburg High School, North Hagerstown High School

See pictures of the MDE's Rethink Recycling Contest Winners


Additional digital images from this event are available. please contact MDE’s office of communications.