February 7, 2011

National Competition Challenges Students to Recycle

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For the first time, Cornell will compete in Recyclemania, a 10 week competition between 630 colleges and universities to reduce the most waste by promoting composting, recycling, and reuse.

Recyclemania will run from Monday until April 2. The College and University Recycling Council runs the competition annually to motivate campuses to reduce the consumption of resources.

Throughout the competition, the University will  report the weight of recycled goods, compost from campus eateries, and garbage sent to the landfill every week. The schools will be ranked on total waste reduction per capita.

“Our goal is to come out winning,” Spring Buck, an administrator from Cornell Recycling Operations said.  “Every person on campus is in the game. The simple rules are to recycle everything you can, compost everything you can and reuse everything you can.”

Some Cornellians see Recyclemania as a chance to defeat rival schools, including Harvard.

“My best friend goes to Harvard and we have a little back and forth going,” said Kristen Vitro ’11. Every time they win a game or beat us at something, my friend texts me. I want to be able to tell her that we beat Harvard at Recyclemania.”

“It’s a good way for us to benchmark with peers, to be more transparent, and to engage the community,” Buck said.

The Class of 2014 Council is the main sponsor of Cornell’s participation in Recyclemania.

“We decided to get involved because a lot of the events that class councils organize are small and fun, but don’t make a lasting impact,” said Geoffrey Block ’14, a member of the Class of 2014 Council. “We hope to sponsor it for the rest of our years at Cornell and leave a lasting legacy on the school,” Block said.

Block hopes that the Recyclemania event will continue for years to come. The logo of the Recyclemania event does not have a date on it so that it can be reused for many years to come, Block said. The Class of 2014 Council orchestrated a logo contest to find the winning design.

Greeks Go Green, a group that aims to promote sustainability in the Greek System, has already begun a campaign to increase the rate of composting in Cornell dining establishments and will continue the campaign during the competition. Greeks Go Green assigns “compost monitors” to go into dining units and educate people about what is compostable and how to sort waste properly, Vitro said. This semester, they are hoping to visit every dining unit at least once every week.

Composting efforts have had varied success across campus, according to Vitro.  In areas with a lot of traffic, such as Trillium, and places that only started composting recently, a lot of things go in the wrong bins, she said.

Greeks Go Green, is also selling recycling bins “for the event recycling needs” of fraternities, Vitro said, hoping to increase the amount of waste reduction per capita and increase Cornell’s standing in the competition. The bins are “designed to look like giant Keystone cans,” Christina Copeland ’11 said.

The bins cost $20 — the amount redeemable for the number of cans they can hold.

“The main thrust is that each individual person, all the little things add up,” Buck said.

Over the next few weeks, the Class of 2014 Council will distribute quarter cards and put up posters in dorms to suggest ways for people to reuse and recycle more, Block said.

These include using reusable mugs and water bottles.

“If more people pitch in and do things, it will grow,” Buck said. “It’s fun, teamwork, and school spirit. What’s not to love?”

Original Author: Laura Shepard