Mascara wands help wildlife


Jessie Birckelbaw

Mascara wands are collected by students in Illini Wildlife and Conservation Club to help clean small and baby animals.

By Xin Ding , Staff Writer

While mascara is most commonly associated with cosmetic use, the Illini Wildlife and Conservation Club has found a different purpose for used mascara wands.

Mascara wands can be used to clean dirt, bugs and larvae eggs off the fur of small and baby animals, such as kittens and ducklings.

The organization has been collecting mascara wands since October to donate them to the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge, an organization that provides care for injured and orphaned animals, and educates the community about conservation.

IWCC is an organization in ACES that allows students who are interested in wildlife care, conservation and veterinary medicine to learn about animal sciences.

Elisa Schwertfeger, senior in ACES and the philanthropy chair of IWCC, said they chose to work with the refuge because it allows students to help animals without having to give money.

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    “In a college campus, nobody wants to spend money. So if we say, ‘Can you donate your old mascara wands?’ There (are) so many girls on campus who were like ‘I probably should get some new mascara. Here, take my old one.’ That’s how we’ve gotten a lot of our donations so far,” Schwertfeger said.

    Nicole Principe, senior in ACES and public relations chair of IWCC, said flies can land on animals and bury their eggs deep in the animals fur.

    “It actually works really well in kind of scraping off dirt and these egg larvae off these animals because the bristles on the brush are so close together,” Principe said. “It’s really good at picking up that small stuff that a normal brush can’t get. It’s really gentle for these little animals.”

    Juliette Nye, senior in ACES and president of IWCC, said the cleaning process is very important because it helps prevent infection that could be transmitted to other animals.

    Schwertfeger said IWCC chose October because students might use more makeup and mascara for Halloween parties.

    The organization has a total of 11 collection boxes on campus located in areas where people frequent and where networking events are commonly held, such as the 4-H House and St. John’s Catholic Newman Center.

    The organization is aiming to collect 100 mascara wands, Nye said. As of Friday, it has collected about 60 wands.

    “Using these mascara wands is a cool way to reuse stuff that we already have in our house instead of throwing it away, (and it ends) up being more plastic in our landfills and stuff like that,” Principe said. “So it’s cool that (it) helps animals in a lot of different ways.”

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