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Brockport goes green for Recyclemania

STAFF WRITER

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 08:02

Recycle

Courtesy of brockport.edu

Emily McCall, organizer for the Recyclemania project on campus, hopes that students will recognize the worthy cause. The program is designed to promote recycling with free giveaways and prizes.


The spirit of competition, throughout history, has inspired many to heroic feats, but can it be used to get students at Brockport to recycle? Emily McCall believes so.

McCall is an organizer for the national organization Recyclemania, a recycling and waste minimization-based competition claiming 630 colleges and universities as participants in the United States and Canada. McCall, with the mentorship of Environmental Science department member Hilary Mosher and the assistance of fellow students Meghan Albers, Richard Loscalzo, Amanda Vasile, Anna Hintz and Craig Ross, have been striving over the past few years to raise awareness of recycling on campus. To accomplish this, the members of Recyclemania have been getting the word out using the most effective method known to mankind: free stuff.

Recently, students “caught” recycling by Jitterbugs and Union Square staff had their pictures taken and were awarded free “Green is Gold” T-shirts and a recent weeklong waste reduction competition between Brockway and Harrison Halls yielded the least wasteful dining hall an extra sundae bar for their efforts. But did it work? The results don’t lie.

The environmental science department  at Brockport has been working with Recyclemania to help gather data for the competition by calculating the exact composition of what we throw away, as well as how much we typically waste every time we sit down to eat. 

“The typical student on campus, on average, wastes over three ounces of food every meal,” McCall said. “So for our dining hall competition, we had a goal to reduce food waste to under three ounces.” 

Through the efforts of the Recyclemania organizers, they reduced food waste by an average of 15 percent between the two dining halls. However, there was a noticeable discrepancy between the two. 

“Harrison won the competition, finishing 0.21 ounces under the goal we set. Brockway, on the other hand, barely made it, finishing under our goal with less than a tenth of an ounce,” McCall said.

But how does this approach work over time? Looking at the past results of this event around campus, the results proved promising. According to recyclemania.org, the organization’s official website, due to Recyclemania’s efforts on campus, Brockport experienced a noticeable increase in recycling practices among students, improving the rate at which they recycle by 0.87 percent. This year, McCall and the rest of the event’s organizers are hoping to build on that success.

With any effort on campus, the primary goal of any movement is raising awareness. 

“Our main objective, primarily, is to promote a conscious decision among the student body to make an effort to not only be mindful of what they waste, but to recycle what they do use,” McCall said. “We want to get student attention not only through the use of flyers everywhere, but through issuing certain ‘incentives’ for people that do recycle.”

One of the biggest utilizations of this concept will take place within the dorms. 

“On a micro scale, we’re having our own Recyclemania competition among the dorms on campus, which will potentially raise overall participation for the entire college,” McCall said. 

But what will it take to motivate even the most wasteful among us to put out those blue bins every week? About $20 worth of EZ-money awarded randomly every week from the recycling rooms.

Recyclemania seeks to raise participation not only among individual rooms, but to create a sense of community among the dorms. 

“Creating a group with a common goal and equal incentive is a powerful motivator, and could help raise overall participation to truly respectable numbers,” McCall said. “The hall with the highest rate of participation will receive a pizza party for their entire dorm at the end of the competition.”

One aspect of the competition organizers are seeking to emphasize is recycling the correct items. According to a student report on the waste audit used to gather initial figures for the competition, 65 percent of waste tossed out in Union Square over a two-day period was recycled correctly, while the remainder of items recycled consisted of nonrecyclable items. 

“These were encouraging figures,” McCall said. “It shows that a majority of campus knows how and what to recycle already. But of course, we are definitely seeking to eliminate that gap.”

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