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It may be an overwhelming thought, but every piece of plastic a person has come in contact with in his or her lifetime likely still exists today in some shape or form.

The Eco Squad at Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy has prevented over 1,300 pounds worth of trash from going to the landfill.

They have been busy recycling all school year and as of the last update they received, have been leading other schools in the number of recycling items collected.

“We have an arrangement with Keep Harlingen Beautiful to pick up from us once a week,” said club sponsor Katherine Nieto-Whittaker. “Our teachers all have recycling boxes in their rooms, and they collect any paper or plastic materials. We have six bins, and all six get loaded up.”

Every Wednesday afternoon, members of the Eco Squad make their rounds collecting items teachers have placed in their recycling bins.

Aside from the satisfaction of knowing they are doing something good for the environment, students are accumulating community service hours that will help bolster their college applications.

Perhaps the most important consequence of their participation in the club is that it is compelling them to take stock of their behaviors in favor of developing greener habits.

“My sister brings paper home from assignments that she’s completed, so I told her to give it to me,” student Sarah Reyna. “I bring it to school and put it in the recycling bins. Also, when I buy water bottles I’ll keep them for like a week or two and refill them with water from the faucet.”

“If I see someone throwing papers in the trash, I take them out and put them in the recycling box,” said student Adam Ramos.

The Eco Squad also prides themselves in setting the example for their campus and doing their best to educate their peers about recycling.

“There’s a lot of science going on right now to increase the effectiveness of recycling worldwide and trying out new methods to reuse items,” said Nieto-Whittaker. “As far as Harlingen goes, we are just trying to contribute the best way we can with the resources that we have available.”

To learn more about recycling efforts in Harlingen, visit the Keep Harlingen Beautiful Facebook page @keephgnbeautiful.

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