Armed with milk-carton monsters with scary tin-can eyes and leis made from plastic soda-can holders, magician Timothy Wenk mesmerized Truman Benedict Elementary School students Tuesday with a suitcase full of garbage.
Wenk, who uses magic to teach children about recycling, first dropped an empty, clear-glass Coke bottle into a wrinkled brown paper bag and pulled out a green Sprite soda bottle.
Children cheered as he took a stack of old newspapers and pulled them into a gigantic paper beanstalk to demonstrate how recycling paper saves forests.
"When you guys grow up, you might be living in a house built of recycled plastic," said Wenk, 38, of Stockbridge, Mass., explaining how plastic also can be recycled into material for park benches and playground equipment.
Wenk also visited kindergarten through fourth-grade children on Tuesday at George L. White and Las Palmas elementary schools.
He will bring his "Magic of Recycling" show, sponsored locally by the Soleg Disposal Company of San Clemente, to 14 schools this week in the Capistrano Unified School District.
The magic program was started six years ago in Massachusetts.
Wenk was recruited by the Center for Ecological Technology to put together a program to teach recycling.
There are now five performers, and the show has traveled to 24 states.
It received an award for outstanding public education last year from the National Recycling Convention in Orlando, Fla.
Information: (800) 936-5123.