Since February 2, the Gustavus campus has been participating in RecycleMania, a national recycling challenge hosted by the College and University Recycling Council. Gustavus is participating for its third consecutive year after joining the competition in 2009.
There are 630 college campuses across the country that have registered to participate in the 2011 contest, which rates schools based on their per capita collection of recyclables, total collection of recyclables, lowest trash per capita and highest recycling rate. The competition is intended to increase participation and awareness about campuses’ recycling and trash reduction programs. Other Minnesota schools participating this year include St. Johns University, Hamline University and the University of St. Thomas.
RecycleMania began in 2001 as a competition between Ohio University and Miami University (OH), created by students at each. In the following years, the competition spread to other campuses and has continued to grow since. The number of participants doubled to 400 in 2008, growing to 510 in 2009. The 2011 competition includes participants from all 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, four provinces of Canada, one university in the United Kingdom and one foundation in Qatar.
“It’s basically an eight-week [event] in order to increase people’s awareness of waste produced on campus,” Sophomore Environmental Studies and Biology Major Ashley Hansen said. Hansen is one of two students organizing Gustavus’s efforts in the RecycleMania competition. Her partner in the project is Sophomore Lexi Johnson. Hansen and Johnson have used tabling outside the Market Place, pledge sheets and drawings for prizes as ways to create awareness for the program.
There are many ways students can help to reduce waste on campus in their day-to-day lives.
“If you go to the [Market Place], use the Gustieware and bring it back. If you’re going to get a coffee, get it in a mug. These are just the little things people can do. And if you get something in a container, put it in one of the bins around campus,” Johnson said.
One of the issues Johnson and Hansen are working on is getting bottle cap receptacles placed on campus. Plastic bottles are recyclable with commingling, but the caps from the bottles are not – they require a different recycling process. Another topic has been using refillable salt and pepper shakers in the Market Place. Currently, the Market Place uses disposable shakers.
Some other recycling tips, provided by the staff of the Melva Lind Interpretive Center, include guidelines for paper recycling: paper recycling is processed with cool water. This means that food remnants and grease can contaminate a batch of recycling. Do not put food containers or pizza boxes in paper or cardboard recycling. Commingling is intended for glass, metal and plastic bottles. Gusties can keep these tips in mind as they participate in RecycleMania, which concludes April 2.
During last year’s competition, the average Gustavus student produced 72.18 cumulative waste pounds per person, and 21.31 pounds per person of cumulative recyclables. This equates a recycling rate of 29.53 percent, which ranked Gustavus 100th out of 267 campuses in its division of the 2010 competition.