Caps Off To Recycling

The Life Skills class brought in over five hundred pounds of plastic bottle caps.

Brandon Eslamian, Staff Editor

Sitting outside behind the stairs between the history and shop hallway of Windsor High School is a seemingly insignificant grey bench. Upon closer inspection, however, one can see little specks of color scattered throughout it. As it turns out, this bench was made from five hundred pounds of plastic bottle caps, collected by the Life Skills class spearheaded by teachers Sarah Shackelford and Diane Hilterbrand.

Five hundred pounds of plastic bottle caps. If each cap were roughly 2.5 grams, then that would mean upwards of ninety thousand caps.

This project to collect five hundred pounds of plastic bottle caps began after Shackelford discovered that a majority of recycled bottle caps are not recycled because they are a different type of plastic compared to the bottle itself, or the cap just falls through the separator during the recycling process. Former Windsor High School teacher Keri Raben informed Shackelford about a company in Evansville, Indiana, named “Green Tree Plastics” that would convert plastic caps into a bench or table. Thus, Shackelford began the two year project that started in fall of 2015.

Students in the Windsor High School Life Skills class placed bins designated for plastic bottle caps all around the school with signs specifying what types of caps are acceptable. To reach the goal of 500 pounds in a school with roughly 950 students, the contributors would have to branch out.

One person who donated a large amount of caps was Windsor history teacher Tina Boehm. She notified family, friends, friends of friends, and her students about the program and brought in a significant amount.

“For one, we have got to keep them out of the landfills. It seemed like a great idea and it turned out so cool! With all the plastic in the oceans, too, I thought I’d give them a hand,” Boehm said.

“Ms. Boehm and our custodian Brenda always brought in clean caps, which was a blessing since we had to clean quite a bit of the others,” Hilterbrand said.

Another notable donor was the Green Alliance team, led by avid recycling supporter and Windsor art teacher, Laura Ward. Their donations covered the $275 fee in order to produce the bench.

“I was glad to donate money raised from the clothing drive,” Ward said.

The caps came from an enormous variety of locations, including but not limited to students, teachers, factories, pharmacies, warehouses and churches.

“I’d like to give a shoutout to Mrs. Raben and  Mr. Van Dyke; they brought in quite a bit during the two years of collection,” Shackelford said.

The project came to a close in Fall of 2018 as the goal of five hundred pounds was met. During this year’s spring break, Shackelford and her husband took a rainy jaunt to Evansville, Indiana, donning 500 pounds of plastic bottle caps in the back of their truck. Green Tree Plastics accepted the caps, and in return they recycled them into a bench which now sits just outside art teacher Abby Pikul’s room around the corner of the life skills garden.

More information on the program can be found at