Campus repeats Recyclemania

Hold it! Don't toss that paper in the trash. The campus is depending on you.

UC Santa Cruz has entered the annual recycling contest Recyclemania for the second time, and organizers are hoping they can improve the campus's ranking compared with last year.

"I hope we'll post better numbers this year," said Recycling Coordinator Dave Wade. "We've seen a big increase in public awareness and interest over the last year."

In signing up to compete, UCSC joins 510 colleges and universities worldwide, up from approximately 400 nationwide last year. The friendly, 10-week competition among college and university recycling programs aims to increase awareness and participation in campus recycling and waste-reduction efforts. Schools representing all 50 states and several other countries are participating.

During the competition, campuses go head-to-head in different contests to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of solid waste per capita, or other benchmarks.

UCSC's participation generated a lot of additional interest in recycling on campus, Wade said.

"I fielded lots of phone calls and e-mails specifically because someone had heard or read about Recyclemania," he said.

Since it was the first year the campus participated, he's not sure whether recycling quantitatively increased because of the contest, "but awareness certainly increased," he said.

He hopes people on campus will help the Recycling division to recycle even more this year.

"We've added new recycling locations, added a new truck and a new driver, all so that we can divert more materials," said Wade. "But we need people in the community to take that first step and choose to recycle. We can't do it ourselves. It takes community participation."

There's more to recycling than just keeping stuff out of landfills, as important as that is, said Wade.

"Recycling is about saving energy and natural resources, and reducing pollution," Wade said. "It's also part of the larger picture when it comes to reducing waste and thereby reducing our environmental impacts, decreasing our carbon footprint, and fighting global warming."

From now through the end of March, UCSC will compete with the other universities enrolled in Reyclemania to see who can recycle the most and throw away the least amount of materials.

Wade is asking the campus community for help.

"Make the choice to reduce needless waste, choose re-useable goods wherever you can, and recycle as much as you can," he said. "Your efforts really do matter."

RecycleMania began in 2001 when Ed Newman of Ohio University and Stacy Edmonds Wheeler of Miami University decided that something had to be done to increase recycling in the residence and dining halls on their campuses. The first year, Miami University won the competition over Ohio University.

Since then, the program grew rapidly in participants each year and expanded to include various contests. In 2007, the number of contestants more than doubled over the previous year, with 201 schools battling for RecycleMania glory. That year, the effort produced 41.3 million total pounds of recycled materials, up from approximately 18 million pounds in 2006.

Last year, Reyclemaniacs recycled a total of 58.6 million pounds.

Results are reported weekly on Fridays on the RecycleMania web site.

Related links:

UCSC's recycling program

Let the trash-talking begin: UCSC joins national college recycling competition