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Recyclemania efforts begin across campus

February 14, 2008

RecycleMania got off to a slow start at UW-River Falls, but environmentally conscious students across campus are working to make sure students don’t forget about it.

“RecycleMania is a friendly competition among college and university recycling programs in the United States that provides the campus community with a fun, proactive activity in waste reduction,” according to the official RecycleMania Web site.

More than 400 U.S. campuses have entered the 2008 competition. The competition is broken into four divisions: most recyclables per capita, least trash per capita, most total recyclables and highest rate of recycling.

UWRF will be competing against campuses trying to collect the most recyclables per capita. In this division, the total weight of recyclables collected each week is divided by the campus population to determine the amount recycled by the average member of the campus community. After 10 weeks, final rankings of participating schools will be released.

“We’re actually running a little behind,” Sarah Knorr, ECO Club co-president, said at a RecycleMania workshop held Feb. 5.

RecycleMania began Jan. 27 when students were trying to adjust to the first week of classes, which made it difficult for the ECO Club to start its job of promoting the contest.

ECO Club members are now mobilizing to accomplish the goals they have for this year’s contest.

“The biggest thing is just getting students aware of the importance of recycling,” Rebecca Alexander, RecycleMania chair for the ECO Club, said.

To fulfill another goal, student recycling representatives from residence halls were invited to the Feb. 5 RecycleMania workshop.

“We’d really like to get the dorms involved to a greater extent than last year,” Alexander said.

Residence halls represent the biggest potential source of recyclable materials on campus. Through educational programs and activities, the ECO Club and recycling reps hope to get residence halls recycling to their full potential.

“Most people just don’t recycle because they don’t know what they can recycle,” Mandy Schmidt, recycling representative for Parker Hall, said.

This is why it’s so important to educate people about what is recyclable, Schmidt said.

Paper, cardboard, glass bottles and jars, aluminum and all plastics numbered 1 through 7 can be thrown into the recycling bins scattered around campus. A more complete list of what’s recyclable can be found through the UWRF Facilities Management Web site.

“Decrease plastic bag use” was written on the dry erase marker board as goal number one at the RecycleMania workshop. Local recycling facilities don’t accept plastic bags, so they simply end up in landfills after use.

Once students figure out what is recyclable, they should actually make the effort to recycle, Samantha Powell, recycling representative for May Hall, said.

“Make use of those (new recycling bins(, you know,” Powell said. “Don’t just put them in your closet.”

UWRF placed 97th out of the 175 schools in its division in the 2007 competition. The school’s rank might rise this year if the ECO Club’s campaign to increase recycling awareness in the residence halls is successful, Alexander said.

“There is a grand prize for the winning school,” Alexander said. “It’s a trophy, but to be honest, all of the schools involved will win.”

Manny Kenney, UWRF recycling coordinator and grounds maintenance supervisor, submitted the total weight of recyclables collected for the first week of the competition.

“Well, I think we’re off to a good start,” Kenney said.

UWRF had accumulated 15,300 pounds of recyclables as of Feb. 9.