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Ecomaine challenges students to create 'upcycled' products

The Upcycle Challenge invites students to find items that would normally be thrown away and create an all-new, super-useful invention from them.

PORTLAND, Maine — Ecomaine, a sustainable waste management service that supports communities across Maine and New Hampshire, is challenging students to turn trash into treasure!

This idea is known as "upcycling," where one takes items that may otherwise be throw away and turns them into new materials or products of greater quality or artistic value. 

The Upcycle Challenge invites students to find items that would normally be thrown away and create an all-new, super-useful invention from them.

According to ecomaine, last year, the challenge saw entries such as hair scrunchies made from old clothing, furniture made from old tires, a flower pot made from a basketball, and movie projectors made from all kinds of would-be-junk materials. 

“The first year was even more successful than we could have hoped,” ecomaine’s Communications Manager Matt Grondin said. “And while we realize that schools are challenged by the pandemic and uncertainty, our aim this year is to provide an activity that promotes creative thinking about our waste materials, and that can be achieved with teachers’ support, no matter the setting.”

The challenge is open to Pre-K to 12th-grade students who reside in communities served by ecomaine

Students will have until March 19 to unveil their upcycled inventions, either by sending their submission as a document, photo, or video, to ecomaine.

Finalists will be chosen by Ecomaine’s Outreach and Recycling Committee based on the following criteria:

  1. Incorporation of post-consumer materials
  2. Ingenuity and functionality of a new “upcycled” invention
  3. Inclusion of students in the design and construction process
  4. School (teacher, coach, administrative) leadership and approval

Finalists will then be selected by popular vote on social media by Earth Day 2021.