A group of Hanahan Middle School students is holding our state representatives accountable for increasing recycling efforts in South Carolina.

These eighth-graders traveled to the Statehouse in Columbia last week to lobby for recycling on RecyclonomicsSC Legislative Day. And they don’t just talk about it, they live it.

The Eco Challenge Team won the Southeast regional Lexus Eco Challenge for the fourth year in a row and will submit its project for the national competition Friday.

The prize for winning regionals was $10,000 and the team could win $30,000 in the national contest.

Seven thousand dollars of the regional prize money went to a college fund for each of the team members. The rest went to the school for more recycling projects.

The team is collecting plastic bottle caps for its nationals project, Caps for a Cause. Team members will use the caps to make a bike rack, bench and picnic table for the school.

The goal is 50,000 caps with 20,000 collected in the first two weeks.

The team has partnered with the College of Charleston Office of Sustainability, Blackbaud, SPAWAR and other local businesses to reach the goal.

The entire school is excited about the project because the grades are competing against each other to see who can collect the most caps. The winner gets a pizza party.

The students also have gotten their family members involved in recycling.

“It gives our parents something to interact with us,” said Madison Moeller about bonding with her parents when recycling.

The students learned from the RecyclonomicsSC organization that only 27 percent of South Carolinians recycle, and the goal is to increase that to 75 percent by 2030.

The team’s adviser is science teacher Alexandra Davis. She said that only two cities in Berkeley County have curbside recycling pickups: Daniel Island and Hanahan.

Davis said the Hanahan program is new and not many people use it because they aren’t aware of it.

The students said they plan to reach out to the community with fliers and social media to increase participation.

They have a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/ecochallenge20122013), a Twitter account (@ HMS Eco Hawks) and a Facebook page (HMS Eco Challenge 2012-2013).

Members said they were surprised the representatives were receptive to their ideas and spoke about their work to increase recycling in the area.

They also learned that recycling not only benefits the environment but creates jobs.

Members include Lexis Davis, Tyler Futrell, Caroline Hall, Andrea Heyward, Kimberly Johnson, Madison Moeller, Kirsten Songer, Kaylee Stacey, Britney Tsui and Aaron VanMaanen.

To donate caps, drop them off at the Hanahan Middle School office at 5815 Murray Drive.