Getting Cap Crazy

Haddonfield Boy Scout Troop 65 collecting bottle caps for a good cause

Haddonfield Boy Scout Troop 65 is trying to do its part creating awareness and reducing waste. The troop is undertaking a project to collect bottle caps to make a park bench. To create the bench, the Troop has to collect 400 pounds of plastic bottle caps. Since October, it has collected 103 pounds.

“The Boy Scouts of America have a World Conservation Award, which has three requirements,” said Lisa Quanci, the adult leader spearheading the event. “One is earning the Environmental Science Merit Badge, one is the Citizenship in the World merit badge and one is either Soil and Water Conservation or Fish and Wildlife Conservation Management. We have to do three of those four requirements, and this project actually fills for Environmental and Citizenship badges. These are the boys who are specifically interested in earning the conservation award, which is the culmination of those three merit badges.”

The Troop 65 Conservation team consisting of Olli and Tobi Janssen, Tommy Miller, Alex Siecienski, and Cyrus and Samir Marwaha, who are all 12 years old, have been the leadership for this project.

“We are trying to raise awareness about protecting the environment and recycling,” Olli said. “Lots of people don’t know or don’t care about it, and I want to make a big impact to change how people think about it. “

“I just want to help the environment,” Alex said. “People don’t realize what they are doing to the environment when they are hurting it. Once people realize that you can take trash that you can normally throw out, turn it into something that people can use a lot, and save a tree by not making a bench out of a tree, I think that would make a big difference.”

The bench will be made in Evansville, Ind., by a company named Green Tree Plastics. The normally cost of the bench is $800. However, the company works with youth-led groups such as the Boy Scouts to promote youth involvement and asks for the 400 pounds of bottle caps and a $225 processing fee. The caps, which are found on items such as water bottles, medicine bottles and detergent, are usually not able to be a part of the recycling process.

“We are so conditioned to toss something in the recycle bin, which is great because that is something the scouts are all supposed to do, but the scouts are taking this one step further,” Quanci said. “These bottle caps, classified as №4 and №5 bottle caps, are not even recyclable in our towns’ stream. They need to be removed. There is a whole process to remove them, and it costs money. The caps have to be pulled out anyway. The idea that is we could take this refuse that is a pain to pull out of the cycle stream and take it somewhere specifically that can create this “forever bench” which will be donated to Camden’s UrbanPromise Community Garden It will serve the people of the Fresh Food Co-operative garden. It’s not wood. It won’t corrode or have termite damage. It will be there forever for the gardeners. The scouts feel great about it going to a useful and appreciated place.”

The UrbanPromise Community Garden in Camden is a food co-op; depending on how much someone works, they get points to shop for the food grown.

The Scouts have traveled across Haddonfield, leaving flyers and collection boxes for the bottle caps. Some of the locations include Inkwood Books as well as Saxbys and Starbucks. They also have met with Ron Smith, an environmental science teacher at Haddonfield Memorial High School. The school’s Environmental Science Club will assist with the collection of caps.

Troop 65 will also be taking part in Haddonfield’s Earth Day celebration at King’s Court. Scouts will be passing out collection boxes and free plants on Saturday, April 22. They also will be taking donations toward the processing fee.

“I’ve always wanted to do something to help the environment, including cleaning up parks,” Tobi said. “This is a really good chance of doing this on a bigger scale because there are tons of bottles out there and people save them and throw them in the trash. There is a lot of trash and a lot of pollution. Even if we just make one single bench, it still saves a lot and helps the environment and pollution.”

For one of the Scouts, this project means even a little more.

“I just want to make a difference,” Tommy said. “Usually, I’m not known as someone because I’m barely noticed usually at school. I want to make a difference to people so they can make an impact themselves and try this with their families and friends to be able to help the environment and recycle.”

If anyone would like to make a monetary donation to the Haddonfield Boy Scout Troop 65 bench project or pick up a bottle cap collection box, contact Quanci at heylisabee@gmail.com.