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Prairie Crossing Students Present Environmental Project to Village

Two eighth-graders are encouraging the Village of Grayslake to spread the word about the value of reducing the number of unwanted catalogs, phone books and other mailers that typically end up in landfills.

Prairie Crossing Charter School eighth-graders Ben Steinbeck and Chase Werfel are hoping to get the community on board with an initiative to reduce all those catalogs residents get in the mail and usually throw away.

The students presented their idea at the Nov. 6 village board meeting, addressing the mayor and trustees from the podium.

Through the Website www.catalogchoice.org, said the students, residents can opt out from receiving unwanted catalogs and other "junk mail" and help preserve the environment.

"Millions of people receive catalogs" that end up in the landfills, said Ben.

"This site can be extremely helpful," said Chase, whose father is village trustee Jeff Werfel. "We can save thousands of trees and greenhouse gas emissions."

For $1,000 per year, said the students, Grayslake can get a Catalog Choice co-branded Website where residents could opt-out of unwanted mailings and see statistics related to the overall impact the community is making on the environment.

According to Catalog Choice, "38 percent of paper waste ends up in the landfill where local governments are responsible for the management and cost of disposing this waste."

The Web site also states that Americans receive more than 80 billion pieces of unsolicited mail each year, which equates to about 75 pounds per household.

As an experiment, the students gathered catalogs from their school's teacher lounge for 10 days and discovered it added up to 170 catalogs weighing in at 12 pounds.

Trustees thanked the students for their presentation. Mayor Rhett Taylor said he would promote their idea on the village Website to determine the community's interest.

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