Don’t be afraid to ask Nathaniel Barrett ’19 (South Bend, Ind.) for a bottle cap. He has a million of them, literally.
Barrett’s senior service project is to convert plastic bottle caps and lids into a recycled bench or picnic table, depending on how many caps he collects. It takes 200 pounds of caps – mostly the ones off water and pop bottles – to create a bench and 500 pounds to make a picnic table.
Barrett said the last weigh-in of donated caps put the project over the 500-pound limit. That’s over one million bottle caps now stored in a Woodcraft Camp cabin. He needed an out-of-the-way location because the trash bags were piling up.
The project has two-fold purpose, Barrett explained. First, it keeps the plastic caps picked up around campus. Secondly, it provides the campus additional outdoor seating and/or an outdoor place to eat.
His next step will be to rent a truck and transport the caps to Green Tree Plastics in Evansville, Ind. Barrett has applied for a grant to help finance the cost of the truck and pay the difference between the caps and the bench or table. A bench is 200 pounds of plastic and $250. A picnic table is 500 pounds and $525, he said. His intention to place whatever piece is funded in the grove just south of the Lay Dining Hall. He would bring the recycled bench/table with him on the return trip.
“They have them ready so you can bring one back with you,” he said. Green Tree will then use his caps to make another piece. Accepted caps and lids include recycled No. 2, 4 or 5 plastic (click here for a complete list).
Barrett said he got the idea from an earlier Woodcraft Camp campaign that collected caps and lids to help put new benches in the Culver Town Park. He is continuing to collect the caps, he added, so people should feel free to bring caps back with them after winter break. Whatever he doesn’t use will be set aside for the next round.
The Green Life club is going to make the project an on-going program and he is hoping someone will come forward to steer it as their senior service project.