Three Arrowhead Students Win Plastic Essay Competition

Thomas Arndorfer and Jordan Miller

On April 2nd, 2021, three Arrowhead High School students, Alexandra Stahl (senior) and Celia Esbensen (junior) as co-authors and also Caitlin Robel (junior) were winners in the 2021 Wonders of Plastics Essay Contest, hosted by the Milwaukee Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE).


The Milwaukee SPE website states “the winning entry for each participating local affiliation (Section) may be publicized in the Section’s Newsletter and awards will be presented at the Annual SPE Education night.”


The deadline for the essay contest was February 28th, 2021. The Milwaukee website listed topics to consider writing about, such as “advantages of plastics in food packaging, creative use of recycled plastics, how plastics benefit humankind” and more.


Requirements include a length of between 500 and 1,000 words, typewritten format in English, a title as the heading on each page, etc. All requirements can be found on the Milwaukee SPE Wonders of Plastics Essay Contest 2021 webpage.


The first place winners, Stahl and Esbensen, won $250 total in prize money, which was split evenly between the two.  Robel, the second place winner, won $125 in prize money.


Stahl and Esbensen, co-authors of the first place essay, personify plastic in the form of a past love.  In their essay titled “Sincerely, Humanity” the authors state “when we first came to know each other, it was absolutely incredible. I thought of you as the most dependable friend I could have … after I heard some rumors about how bad you were for the environment, I decided I needed to replace you.”


The essay continues with the authors talking about how plastic has helped in many situations, such as having a bottled drink, tools to eat, helping in the hospital, etc. The second to last paragraph states “my mind tricked me to believe you were nothing but disposable” and the essay ends by stating “I hope that you could forgive me and we can move past this and start over again. Please call me when you get this.”


The second place winner, Robel, wrote an essay titled “One Small Change,” where she explained the usefulness but also problems pertaining to plastic.  She wrote “the high use of plastic is understandable from a global perspective because it is cheap, versatile, and easy to use in many circumstances … plastic can cause major damage to our environment, making it worse than it already is and making the problems we face even larger for future generations.”