Recycling Maniacs

In my last post, I mentioned the reality TV show Hoarders and its focus on odd acquisitive behaviors. In this post I write about RecycleMania, which sounds a little like a possible sequel to Hoarders, with a tilt toward the other end of the psychological spectrum. 

RecycleMania is actually a nationwide college event in which schools compete to see who can recycle the most stuff over a 10-week period. To win, competing colleges must collect the most recyclables (per capita or total) and generate the least amount of trash.

RecycleMania capitalizes on a very cherished college tradition: beating the pants off rival schools in a competitive tournament (speaking of pants, as of this writing the categories of recyclables included in the competition have not included clothing or other textiles, but we are hopeful they will be included, perhaps next year).

The RecycleMania website explains the idea behind the event this way:

Colleges and universities are small cities that consume large amounts of resources and generate much solid waste. Whether a school has an extensive waste reduction program or is just getting basic recycling collections off the ground, experience has shown that all schools have potential to further reduce the amount of resources they consume and dispose of. RecycleMania provides a tool for campus recycling coordinators, student green teams and facility service professionals to engage their campus community in recycling and waste reduction in a fun and friendly way.

The event is the brainchild of Ed Newman (Ohio University) and Stacy Edmonds Wheeler (Miami University), who in 2001 tried to figure out a way to increase recycling in campus residence and dinning halls.  Since that first competition (Miami won it), the event has grown steadily, with participation nearly doubling every year.

In 2010 more than 600 campuses participated from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their combined efforts netted nearly 85 million pounds of recycled materials. This has helped reduce greenhouse gases by 137,500 metric tons ofcarbon dioxide equivalent. In real-world terms, this reduction in greenhouse gases is equivalent to the annual emissions from 23,850 passenger cars; electricity use of 15,140 homes; or the burning of 650 railcars’ worth of coal. That is the kind of reality we like to see!

The 2011 RecycleMania will begin in late January. To find out more visit the RecycleMania website or contact them at helpline@recyclemaniacs.org.


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