Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers recently 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.

“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.”