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UT gets trashy in recycling contest

By Jessica Liner
On April 17, 2013

Rubbish and trash were anything but a waste for students competing in the eight-week long RecycleMania competition.

“RecycleMania is a national competition where colleges and universities compete against each other to see who can recycle the most during the eight-week competition period,” said Brooke Mason, interim sustainability specialist. “It started in Ohio, but now there’s over 600 schools that participate across the country.”

In an effort to spread awareness about recycling, Mason, her intern Caroline Beck and workers in Residence Life informed students about recycling by previewing documentaries and offering trade-in sessions where students could exchange recycled goods for other things.

“If you can get students in the habit of recycling throughout the weeks of those competitions, you can hope those habits will stay,” Mason said. “Even though the competition is over, they still remember to take the time to recycle their plastic bottles … because it’s the right thing to do.”

Recycling categories that UT competed in included paper, cardboard, bottles, cans and electronics. UT was the 42nd school in the nation that contributed the most paper, which placed them first in the Mid-American Conference school rankings. UT also recycled 36,512 pounds of electronics, averaging about 2 pounds per person.

“Since I’ve gotten here, I’ve been working really hard to ramp up recycling, in terms of education, but as well as number of bins we have on campus to make it convenient for students,” Mason said.

Overall, UT saved the planet by recycling 175,443 pounds of goods during the eight-week period, with an average of 6 pounds of paper recycled per person.

An internal competition also took place among UT’s residence halls.

Parks Tower, International House, Ottawa House East & West, the Crossings, Carter Hall East & West, McComas Village and the Academic House competed to recycle the most per resident, with promises of a pizza party and t-shirts to egg them on.

“There were fluctuations in the ranking throughout the competition. We weren’t sure who was going to come out on top in the end,” she said.

Parks Tower won, with an average of 3.5 pounds being recycled per resident at the end.

Mason didn’t accomplish this feat alone. She said she’s thankful for the help of Beck and Residence Life, particularly project manager Erin Baker, for supporting her.

However, she has higher hopes for the university with next year’s competition.

“I hope next year we can blow those numbers out of the water,” she said. “I’m hoping that next year, up until the next competition, we’ll be increasing recycling the whole time.”

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