January 30, 2013
MACOMB, IL -- The number to beat: 198,000 pounds.
That's how many pounds Western Illinois University recycled during the 2012 Recyclemania competition, a national contest that pits colleges and universities against one another to measure which institutions can reduce, reuse and recycle the most campus waste, and according to WIU Sustainability Coordinator Mandi Green, last year's nearly 200,000 pound effort beat all other years of Western's participation.
This year's Recyclemania competition will be held Sunday, Feb. 3 through Saturday, March 30. More than 600 colleges and universities participated in the 2012 event, resulting in 94.4 million pounds of recovered recyclable materials.
During the contest, schools report recycling and trash data, and then are ranked according to which institution collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita or has the highest recycling rate. With each week's reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their campus communities to reduce and recycle more.
"We would like to see more people not only recycle as much as they can, but also pay close attention to where they can reduce waste. The truth is that recycling should be your last effort to reduce waste," Green pointed out. "Reducing, followed by reusing [such as refilling water bottles], and finally, recycling should be the steps each of us should follow. Our goals this year include reducing the amount of waste, while increasing our recycling weights. Accomplishing these goals should give Western a much better diversion rate."
Each week during RecycleMania at WIU, staff from Western's Physical Plant will collect and record the amount of recyclables from each residence hall on campus. Waste Management assists the campus community during the next eight weeks by separately weighing each hall's recycled material for more accurate data collection. Schools can then check their standings online.
Some facts that Green likes to share with others include: Americans throw away enough aluminum every month to rebuild the nation's entire commercial air fleet. When one aluminum can is thrown away, as much energy is wasted as if a can was filled halfway with gasoline and then poured on the ground. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a 100 watt light bulb for 20 hours, a computer for three hours and a television for two hours. Enough plastic bottles are thrown away in the United States each year to circle the earth four times.
To learn even more about environmentalism and sustainability, take part in Western's annual Environmental Summit, which will be held April 3 in the University Union.
RecycleMania began in February 2001, when Ed Newman from Ohio University and Stacy Edmonds Wheeler from Miami University decided something had to be done to increase recycling in the residence and dining halls on their campuses. During the inaugural 10-week competition, Miami University and Ohio University battled to see which school could recycle the most. Western has participated in RecycleMania since 2006.
For more information on WIU's recycling program and other sustainable initiatives, visit wiu.edu/vpas/sustainability/recycling.php or contact Green at (309) 298-1834 or at SA-Green@wiu.edu. For more in RecycleMania, visit recyclemania.org