Trip to Sierra ski resort caps students’ recycling project |

Trip to Sierra ski resort caps students’ recycling project

Adam Jensen / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Ashley Hogue / Sierra-at-Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE ” A new mountain sprung up at Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort on Wednesday.

But it wasn’t the snow-covered, granite type the Sierra Nevada is well-known for.

Instead, it was a mountain composed of thousands of bottle caps in every type imaginable ” yellow laundry detergent tops, blue peanut butter lids and white water bottle caps.

The hodgepodge of caps was the culmination of a four-month project by third- and fourth-grade classes from Tahoe Valley Elementary School and third-grade classes from the Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School.

Sierra-at-Tahoe encouraged the elementary schoolers to collect the caps ” that are made up of a different kind of plastic and aren’t as readily recyclable as most plastic bottles ” as part of Aveda’s Caps Recycling Program, said Kirstin Cattell, Sierra-at-Tahoe spokeswoman and chair of the South Lake Tahoe’s new Sustainability Commission.

The program attracted an “overwhelming” response from students, Cattell said.

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The ski area offered to host a play day for the kids if they collected 5,000 caps ” a goal that was reached by the first month, according to Lake Tahoe Environmental Magnet School teacher Vicky Pierce.

“They brought in bottle caps by the bag-load at times,” Pierce said. “They were the ones who became the experts.”

No bottle caps were safe, Pierce added.

“I would have a water bottle and it would be like ‘can I have your cap,'” Pierce said.

Aveda started the program in September after learning that most bottle caps do not get recycled and end up in landfills or worse ” in bodies of water where they can harm wildlife, which often mistake the caps for food and swallow them.

“Aveda’s Caps Recycling Program was created to help combat the devastating effects of plastic cap pollution ” and to increase awareness around this critical issue,” Chuck Bennett, vice president of Earth and Community Care for Aveda, said in a statement. “Recycling caps is a meaningful form of environmental activism. Every cap we prevent from becoming trash is one less piece of plastic in the mouth of a baby seal, penguin or turtle.”

The caps gathered by the South Lake Tahoe students will be collected by Aveda and sent to a plastics recycling facility, where they will be ground down and molded into new caps for Aveda’s Limited Edition Vintage Clove Shampoo.

The culmination of the students’ project was part of Sierra’s first Ski Green Day, which included information booths on environmental efforts by several locally active companies, as well as reusable grocery bag giveaways for anyone who made a purchase from the ticket office on Tuesday.

Ski Green Day is a part of Sierra’s efforts to make immediate and direct improvements to the local environment, Cattell said.