The last time students from Hawthorne Elementary put a recycling bin in a Sugar House parking lot, they ended up with a lot more trash than they bargained for.
They also learned a lot about adults."People left couches, we had some real tails from pigs, and someone left an old car," said Sheri Sohm, a teacher for the school's gifted-student program. Other people just dumped trash on the ground near the bin.
Needless to say, those items could not be recycled. Business owners near the McIntyre Center, 2100 S. 1100 East, where the bin was placed, complained about the trash, and Utah Recycling, the company that owned the bin, removed it last month.
"Kids know better than to throw things on the ground," said Stephanie Stevens, a fourth-grader. "It's funny that grown-ups don't know that it's wrong."
About 10 students went door-to-door to nearby businesses Thursday to apologize for the mess and to ask for support to bring the bin back.
To the students, all part of a group known as Kids Organized to Protect the Environment, the bin was more than just a project they had to do for school. It was the only way they could raise money to save a secluded section of Parleys Creek they had discovered.
For decades, people have used the creek, just east of the McIntyre Center, as a dumping ground. The students want to clean it, landscape it with trees and shrubs and make sure Salt Lake City does not allow any development on it.
"The kids were bopping around the parking lot when they found it," Lynne Olson, mother of sixth-grader Cassie Olson, said about the creek. "It's an area completely enclosed by businesses. You can't see traffic or hear anything there. It literally is the end of the old Mormon Trail."
The kids named the 2.8-acre section Hidden Hollow. "We're trying to turn it into a nature park," said sixth-grader Amanda Thorpe.
The story appears to have a happy ending. Officials from Utah Recycling said Thursday they will replace the bin, only not in its original spot. Instead, it will sit near Stevens Brown-Gart Brothers, 1176 E. 2100 South.
The students will put signs on the bin telling people the right things to put inside and listing rules for recycling etiquette.
A Utah recycling official said the students still should expect unwanted trash. People dump the wrong things at all the company's bins.
But for many conscientious people, the new bin will be a welcome sight. Kathi Whitman drove into the parking lot while the students were there Thursday and was disappointed to find the old bin gone.
"I recycle everything humanly possible," she said while advising the students to advertise more. "I know a lot of people in this neighborhood who recycle, and they never knew it (the bin) was here," she said.