DRYDEN, N.Y. –– The Dryden Central School District gritted its teeth and won the Save Water Challenge this year, run by Colgate, ShopRite and recycling firm TerraCycle. In return for its effort, the district is being rewarded a new garden “made partially from recycled oral care waste.”

During the competition, Dryden Central School District earned a total of 1,488 pledges online to save water on the district’s behalf. Having come in second place, the district is eligible to receive a garden donation made from 48 pieces of garden lumber, two picnic tables, one flat bench, one high-back bench and a recycling receptacle valued at $10,000, according to a release from the district. The garden’s features were constructed using recycled toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss containers collected through a recycling program operated by Colgate. The garden will be unveiled next spring.

First grade teacher Kate McKee, who also serves as the Green Team Co-Advisor at Dryden Elementary School, said a team of fourth and fifth graders had been working with TerraCycle to divert the school’s landfill waste and promote the effort to others in the community.

“Our school garden is also in need of some serious renovation, with raised garden beds that need to be replaced,” McKee said. “When the contest began back in July, it seemed like a perfect fit for our school but we didn’t expect to win such a huge prize. Throughout the summer, we had many staff, family and community members that took the pledge to use less water and voted for Dryden every day.”

The contest launched in July and included schools from Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland that participate in the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program.

“After winning second place, we are excited to utilize the garden beds for a large school garden that engages different grade levels with hands-on learning, have the picnic tables and benches for places to meet outside and the recycling bins for community members to use while visiting the outdoor spaces,” McKee said. “The best part is that all of the materials are made of recycled plastic and they will be a reminder to our students of the importance of recycling at our school.”

“I’m pleased to congratulate the students, parents and faculty of Dryden Central School District on winning second place in the 2020 Save Water Challenge,” said Tom Szaky, Founder & CEO of TerraCycle said in the press release. “The energy and enthusiasm they put into protecting the environment has truly made an impact in their community, and we hope the new garden will bring smiles to children in Dryden for years to come.”

Those who want to learn more about the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program, visit the website here.

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief of The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.org.