Recap: Recyclemania

Brian Weiser, CWRU Green Speaks

With Recyclemania coming to a close at the end of March, I thought now would be a good time to go over the events and results of this year’s competition and how it compared to last year’s.

The Department of Sustainability, Facilities Services, and the Student Sustainability Council (SSC) each put on events throughout the last two months to promote recycling and to educate the community about recycling and related issues.

At the beginning of February, Facilities Services and the Department of Sustainability hosted “Caught Green Handed,” in which they distributed green sunglasses to Case Western Reserve University employees, to be awarded to students who were caught recycling. This was seen as a successful way to reward people for recycling and to bring attention to recycling in general.

The SSC provided its own creative encouragement to recyclers by having a flash mob in the Nord atrium. The idea of the flash mob was to position a recycling can in the middle of the atrium and place a plastic bottle next to it; when someone recycled the bottle, SSC members would start clapping and give him or her a cookie.

The SSC also planned a Thwing Tuesday, co-sponsored by the University Program Board (UPB), to support Recyclemania. The activity of the day was to make crafts with recyclable materials provided by Facility Services.

In terms of results, overall CWRU increased recycling by over 155 percent from last year’s competition –totaling 73 tons of recycled waste, compared to 47 tons last year. But over the eight-week period, CWRU still only recycled 12.5 percent of our total waste. An analysis conducted last semester showed that about 40 percent of the waste that was thrown in the trash could have been recycled, so it would be easy to improve these numbers. CWRU’s recycling did improve week by week, from 8 percent in the first week to 14.5 percent in the final week.

While these results are an improvement over last year’s performance, CWRU still has work to do when it comes to recycling to prove that we are a fierce competitor. We should not stop recycling just because the competition is over – Recyclemania is just the beginning of our sustainable future. We should work just as hard at recycling all year to improve our numbers and our environment.