Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (November 13, 2009) – First Lady Katie O'Malley today awarded prizes for a squid and seahorse, a trash truck, baskets, a tree, and a peacock – all made from reused materials -- at the eighth annual "Rethink Recycling" Sculpture Contest, hosted by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

The sculpture contest challenges Maryland high school students to use recycled materials in artistic and innovative creations. Over 50 entries from 19 different high schools across the state were on display today and contained everything from VCR tapes, bottle caps, lawnmower wheels, cans, paper, and cigarette butts. A complete list of participating schools is at the end of the release.

“These sculptures are a testament to the value of art in educating the public, and they are a visual reminder of the need to recycle and to protect our environment,” said First Lady Katie O’Malley. “I congratulate all of the participants for their creativity and ingenuity.”

“This event captures the spirit of America Recycles Day, as well as MDE’s mission to protect and restore Maryland’s environment” said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “Recycling is more important than ever. Reducing waste helps to protect our waters and the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to preserving natural resources and reducing pollution, recycling saves energy and reduces the greenhouses gases that contribute to climate change.”

Sponsors who donated prizes, funding, and refreshments for this year’s contest were: Best Buy; Constellation Energy; Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Beverage Association; Maryland Recycling Network; Rehrig Pacific Company; Sharp; and the Soap & Detergent Association. MDE uses the art event to highlight America Recycles Day, an annual national awareness event whose mission is to “promote the social, environmental, and economic benefits of buying recycled products and recycling throughout America.”

Contest judges tasked with determining the winners of the contest based on creativity, use of materials, and workmanship included Secretary Wilson, Brian Sansoni of the Soap and Detergent Association and Sheilah Kast, host of Maryland Morning on WYPR-FM.

Philip Custer’s depiction of a Squid and a Seahorse sculpted from rope, bottles, a mattress, pine cones, Styrofoam, wire, and plastic bottles was the Grand Prize Winner. Custer is a student at Broadneck High School in Anne Arundel County. He received a television and a Blue Ray player. The category winners, who received Sharp Ipod Docking Stations, were:

  • Creativity: Jeremey Drenner, Westminster High School, Carroll County, for a tree made with cigarette butts, newspaper and cardboard.
  • Workmanship: Catherine Traini, Middletown High School, Frederick County, for a peacock made from cans, wire, and bottle caps.
  • Use of Materials: Keeley Tober, South Carroll High School, Carroll County, for a trash truck made from lawn mower wheels, sheet protectors, skeet, paper, pipes, and VCR tapes.
  • People’s Choice Category: Evan Callison, Northwestern High School, Prince George’s County, for working baskets made from posters and wire.

"Maryland’s local beverage companies support the "Rethink Recycling" sculpture contest because it is a great opportunity that mixes art, fun, and environmental education," said Ellen Valentino, Executive Vice President
of the Maryland Beverage Association.

"We need to creatively promote and encourage recycling however and whenever we can," added Brian Sansoni, Vice President of Communication at The Soap & Detergent Association. "Recycling is a part of the sustainability practices that are at the heart of our industry. That’s why SDA is proud to be a sponsor of Maryland’s Rethink Recycling Sculpture Contest."

The "Rethink Recycling" sculpture contest, which MDE hosts in celebration of America Recycles Day, 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 at:

America Recycles Day (ARD) 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. ARD reminds us that when it comes to recycling, “It All Comes Back to You.”

Participating High Schools

  • Anne Arundel County: Broadneck High School, Old Mill High School
  • Baltimore County: Parkville High School
  • Carroll County: Century High School, South Carroll High School, Westminster High School
  • Caroline County: North Caroline High School
  • Cecil County: Elkton High School
  • Frederick County: Middletown High School
  • Garrett County: Northern Garrett County High School, Southern Garrett County High School
  • Harford County: C. Milton Wright High School
  • Montgomery County: Montgomery Blair High School, Northwood High School, Walt Whitman High School
  • Prince George’s County: Northwestern High School, Suitland High School - Center for the Visual & Performing Arts
  • Washington County: Williamsport High School, Smithsburg High School


Digital images from this event are available. please contact mde’s office of communications.