Forest Charter School student puts recycling to work to fund study abroad program |

Forest Charter School student puts recycling to work to fund study abroad program

Anjali Figueira-Santos
Special to The Union

Ecotourism is a concept that has grown a great deal since the 1990s, according to an article by GreenGlobalTravel, especially in younger demographics.

Both by raising awareness and by being much more environmentally supportive, it’s becoming a large part of the world’s economy.

The Global Studies Academy at Forest Charter School offers a Costa Rica trip every few years to its students as an opportunity to travel outside of the U.S. and to experience another culture in an ecofriendly and educational way.

“I’m really into ecotourism, and I’m into that because I want to — not just travel our world — but I also want to teach people about why they should care about our beautiful world, and things they can do to maybe help it,” said Cazen Ostrander, a Forest Charter student.

“I just don’t understand why it’s not worth it to people to put a little bit of effort out there.”— Cazen OstranderForest Charter School student

For Ostrander, it was all about how he would raise the money to participate in the academy’s travel program. His solution was to recycle.


Over the summer, Ostrander and his family reached out to friends both in this area and beyond, and asked if they would help him raise money.

“I sent out a Christmas letter to all my friends and family,” he said. “I was like ‘Hey, don’t get me anything, just recycle.’”

After collecting all of the recycling they’d gathered, Ostrander sorted through the piles and made weekly trips to Grass Valley Recycle to deposit it. Since the beginning of the school year, Ostrander has been working on this project. He has made more than half of his budget for the trip, which equals a grand total of $3,200.

One of the biggest issues that Ostrander said he has seen when dropping off his recycling is that most people just don’t want to take the time to sort everything out. Bags that haven’t been sorted just aren’t accepted, although the staff at Grass Valley Recycle is more than willing to teach people how to sort their own bags.

“I just don’t understand why it’s not worth it to people to put a little bit of effort out there.”

Ostrander isn’t sure what he’ll do after he’s raised the money for his trip. He hopes that he can inspire his friends and family to recycle their own plastics, but he thinks that might not happen. If he can’t get them to recycle, then he plans to continue with his own work, and to donate the money to a local animal shelter or similar organization.

“I believe a lot in volunteering in your own community,” Ostrander said, “because if everyone volunteered and kept their community nice, it would help our world.”


Unfortunately, Grass Valley Recycle closed its operations on Nov. 8, among many recycling centers in the country that have had to close due to low value of recyclables and shrinking payments made by the state. The reduction in recycling centers can be devastating to those whose jobs it is affecting, as well as citizens who rely on the center for income, such as many people in the homeless community.

Ostrander said he is looking for another center in the area, but they grow increasingly difficult to find. As these centers disappear, what will come of recyclable materials, as well as the individuals who rely on them to make money?

If you’d like to donate your recycling and otherwise contribute to Cazen Ostrander’s project, call 530-615-8074 to make a donation.

Anjali Figueira-Santos is a Forest Charter School student and intern with The Union. Contact her at

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