RecycleMania Pushes Students to Think Critically About Trash Habits

This past week kicked off RecycleMania, a nation-wide recycling competition that Colorado College participates in annually. The competition measures the weight of recyclables, landfill waste, and compost.

According to the mission statement, RecycleMania is “a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.” RecycleMania will continue for the next seven weeks.

Outside of RecycleMania, the Office of Sustainability is constantly working on tactics to make students more responsible with their waste—everything from redesigning signs to improving public aware-ness.

Zoe Holland, a senior and Office of Sustainability intern said, “even though people are pretty environmentally conscious on campus, getting people to recycle and sort out their waste is pretty difficult still, and we confront a lot of issues with that.” CC has been pretty consistent with its waste disposal for the last couple years. However, this year Holland hopes the school will do better. According to pre-season data, the school is currently doing around the same as last year.

“Last year we came in 57th out of 210 colleges…but if we increase our recycling rate by five percent or up to 50 percent, we could have finished 20 spots higher on the list,” said Holland.

CC utilizes Max-R bins, which are customized solid waste separation receptacles. The Max-R bins allow students to separate their compost, recyclables, and trash. However, regardless of the number of bins on campus or the amount of signage, the impact CC has on the environment is up to the students.

“On the outside containers we put little bands on them that say recycle and land-fill,” said Josh Ortiz, the Landscape and Grounds supervisor. “When you get to a container, you can make the decision 20 feet before you get there.” Currently, if any landfill waste makes it into a recycling bin, the custodial staff has to throw the whole pile out. Ortiz hopes that through more discussions with the custodial staff, we can have more flexibility with that rule. However, if students make the commitment to take a couple more seconds out of their day to sort their waste, CC staff would not have to go through so much trouble. “Humans, if we are trying to alter our behavior, we have a tendency to regress and or in some ways get lazy,” said Johnson.

Last year, CC finished fourth in com-posting in RecycleMania, but 57th in recycling with a 44.798 percent recycling rate. Other than improving our recycling habits, Holland believes that in the future, the goal is to stop using disposable items. CC students are careful about using Nalgene’s instead of disposable water bottles. It is engrained in the culture at CC. However, coffee and smoothie cups from Colorado Coffee as well as other containers add a substantial amount to our waste.

The Office of Sustainability is hosting a workshop every block in order to motivate students to get involved. At the conclusion of RecycleMania, there will be a Recycled Art Fair featuring art made by recycled materials.

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