Unbeknownst to many Keene State College students and faculty, the KSC campus entered an international recycling competition called Recyclemania for the eighth consecutive year in February. Some students may have seen Eco-Reps running around at half-time at a basketball game advertising for the competition, but to the rest, Recyclemania remains somewhat of a mystery.
[singlepic id=881 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Heather Greenwood, KSC recycling coordinator, said Recyclemania is an eight week international recycling competition between the United States, Canada, and Australia.
“The competition consists of categories based on how many materials are being recycled in pounds per person on a campus,” Greenwood explained.
Greenwood said by the end of the competition, which began Feb. 5 and runs through March 31, she will be able to determine how much the average student, staff or faculty member recycles.
Greenwood explained, “Every week I have to input numbers for whatever we’ve recycled on campus. The things we can list are e-waste, bottles and cans, mixed paper, cardboard, compost, and trash.”
Greenwood defined “e-waste” as “anything that has a cord,” for example, a broken television, iPod, old lap top–even a dead cell phone.
Gregg French, a KSC Eco-Rep, said KSC participates in the event as a way to increase recycling efforts on campus.
French stated, “We mostly want to bring recycling awareness and educate the student body on how they can improve their individual and campus lifestyles to make the campus more sustainable.”
Greenwood explained KSC’s participation and discussed which schools the campus finds itself up against.
“The pros and cons of the competition are that we’re competing with schools like Harvard and Yale and Penn State,” Greenwood commented. “So we’re competing with these huge schools and they have a totally different set of resources. They’re on another level.”
Despite the campus’s limited resources in comparison to other institutions, Greenwood credited KSC’s success to the form of recycling used by the campus. Greenwood explained many schools switched to single string recycling, where all recycling is put in a single space—not sorted.
“We’re doing well because we’re doing a lot better in the targeted materials category since we don’t use the single string method,” Greenwood stated.
“In the grand championship we might not rank so high, but per capita, we’re kind of right down the middle, which is good considering the size of our school and the resources.”
Greenwood said within the two preliminary weeks before the competition where schools gathered data and prepared, KSC placed sixteenth and seventeenth each week, respectively, for recycling food.
French promoted the various events and activities throughout the eight week competition.
French discussed the ongoing “Recyclemania Pledge” every Monday between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the L.P. Young Student Center. French explained students can stop by his table and sign a pledge that states he or she will make a conscious effort to recycle all week. The pledge enters the student in a raffle with prizes awarded each week.
Jessica Descoles, a member of R.O.C.K.S., said she and her team are working on a residential hall challenge to help dorms recycle more efficiently.
Descoles explained the three-week challenge and said, “We’re looking for three things: first, who has the least amount of recyclables in the trash; second, which containers are the least contaminated; and last, which dorms have the best sorted recycling bins.
Descoles disclosed a tip for students who recycle on campus and said, “Be sure to empty your bottles before you recycle. We can’t recycle anything that has liquid or grease on it.”
Descoles, like Greenwood, viewed KSC’s participation in Recyclemania with optimism. “I think KSC will do well as long as people keep recycling,” Descoles said. “People need know which materials can go into which bins.”
Greenwood also mentioned another prize winning opportunity for students coming up after spring break.
After break Greenwood plans to hold a “Tweet to Compete Week,” where each day, Greenwood explained, she will tweet a location, time, and item with her @ROCKSrecycling twitter account. When students arrive at the location with the appropriate item, say, a non-perishable food, students receive a Green Buck, valid at Lloyd’s and the Bean & Bagel.
Away from Recyclemania, and in response to the campus’s efforts to recycle, Greenwood said the school could improve. “I think that we have a respectable recycling rate, although I know we could do better,” Greenwood started.
Greenwood explained the campus has maintained about the same recycling rate between 25-30 percent over the past few years.
“That’s pretty good,” Greenwood responded to the figure, “but if you break it down, usually about 85 percent of our trash is recyclable, reusable, or compostable.”
French added, “I feel the same as Heather. The school has made great strides but I feel that there is more we can do.” French did, however, comment on the campus’s successful efforts to cut down food waste in the Zorn Dining Commons.
“Over the course of the years we have made a lot of strives, especially with the food audit. We had 105 pounds of waste over one lunch period last year.” French continued, “This year we’re seeing 71.5 pounds.”
How can KSC students raise that recycling rate?
Greenwood stated the lingering problem remains that students are in a rush and don’t sort their recyclables. Greenwood recommended students become aware of the disposing containers in every dorm and academic building, as well as make the effort to ask an Eco-Rep for suggestions on what is recyclable and what isn’t.
Greenwood concluded, “My biggest goal during this is to raise awareness of the recycling program. I think recycling is a behavior that we need to change. Take the second to just sort the materials. It can be mindless.”
Julie Conlon can be contacted at email@example.com