Across the U.S., Canada and overseas, colleges and universities are competing toward a very green goal recycle more than any other school. The competition, called RecycleMania, comes to a close this Saturday, and many universities, including UR, are making a strong push to the finish.

There are three main sub-categories within RecycleMania: The Per-capita Classic, Gorilla Prize and the Grand Champion. The university that produces the most recycled material per-person wins the Per-capita Classic, while the university that recycles the largest gross amount wins the Gorilla Prize.

The Grand Prize is awarded to the university that reduces waste and increases recycling by the most, relative to that school’s production. Smaller prizes are also awarded to schools that recycle or reduce usage of specific target materials by the most.

Currently, UR is on par to finish about where it did last year in the Grand Championship, but it has made many improvements. As of Wednesday night, UR was ranked No. 28 in the Per-capita Classic and No. 24 in the Gorilla Prize out of 343 participating universities.
UR is performing even more impressively in some of the targeted material competitions. The University is ranked No. 16 of 216 in paper recycling and No. 12 out of 219 in bottle and can recycling.

In the category of food service organics, however, UR is ranked No. 80 out of 92 teams competing. According to Grassroots Co-President Edie Hanson, the problem is primarily logistical. Danforth is currently the only dining center that composts organic waste, which is because there is only one local organization that can take UR’s compost, called Freshwise Farms. Since Danforth gives this organization all the compost they can handle, none of the other dining centers are able to compost organic waste.

Grassroots has been entertaining the idea of using some of this compost to fertilize an on-campus garden, but this plan is far from implementation.

Hanson and UR Recycling Coordinator Amy Kadrie organized several events over the past few weeks to increase awareness about RecycleMania and boost the University’s standings in the competition. Among these, standouts include Mt. Trashmore and Feelin’ Trashy, both designed to promote waste reduction, and a Green Tech Fair held in Hirst Lounge on March 18.

Mt. Trashmore, which took place on March 4, is an annual event in which all the trash produced by Wilson Commons, Douglass Dining Hall and Rush Rhees Library throughout the day is piled in front of Wilson Commons. According to event organizer and senior Andrew Spink, the trash bags serve a greater purpose than just making a mess of the quad.

‘The point is to make students think about the trash that they produce,” Spink said. ‘We all need to remember that it doesn’t just go away.”

On the same day, students made another statement about waste reduction through the Feelin’ Trashy event, led by Hanson. Throughout the day, students carried a bag around, filling it with whatever trash they produced.

At the end of the day, the bags were weighed and the student who produced the least trash won a prize.

At the culmination of the event, participants gathered in the Community Living Center to discuss possible waste-saving ideas.

At the Green Tech Fair, co-sponsored by Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), Computer Science Undergraduate Council (CSUG) and the Computer Interest Floor (CIF), students set up several tables about how to save energy with common electronics. The focal point of the event was a stationary bike hooked up to power a television, created by ESW.

RecycleMania coordinators have also been tabling to promote their cause, both on campus and across Monroe County.

In just eight years since starting, RecycleMania has made tremendous growth.
In fact, last year, the number of participating schools grew to 510, which equated to around five million students and 1.3 million staff members.

Between them, almost 70 million pounds of material were recycled.

This year, over 600 colleges are involved in RecycleMania, making the payoff even greater.
Although RecyleMania is a competition, all the universities participating share a common goal to make campuses across the U.S. more environmentally friendly.
In order to truly accomplish this, the momentum created by RecycleMania must be carried on after the competition is over.

‘This week we will be evaluating how we have done and brainstorming what’s next,” Hanson said.

Fleming is a member of
the class of 2013.

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