By Daniel Schemer, January 2010
Throwing something away doesn’t mean it disappears. It has a multitude of impacts on the environment, like creating toxic contaminants and forcing increased use of land for landfills. It could even add to the North Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating garbage island in the Pacific Ocean currently twice the size of Texas. The average American generates over 1600 pounds of waste annually. 20 recycled cans can be produced with the same amount of energy it takes to create one virgin can. Every glass bottle recycled saves enough energy to light a 100 watt bulb for four hours. In general, it takes less energy to produce and use recycled materials than creating new materials.
From January 17 – March 27 UMass Dartmouth’s 14 Residence Halls are participating in the nationwide Recylemania contest. RecycleMania is a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities. Over the 10-week period all Residence Halls will collect as much recyclable material as possible. Cans, glass, plastic, paper, and cardboard will be gathered and tallied every week from each Halls’ 96-gallon bins. The overall goal of Recylemania is to increase student awareness and involvement in campus recycling through collaboration and partnership with participating schools.
Schools report recycling and trash data weekly to their profile pages on Recylemania’s website, which are then ranked according to who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate. At UMass Dartmouth, the amounts of recyclables accumulated by each Residence Hall will be compared to each other; the plan is to have each week’s results and rankings be used to rally the campus community to reduce and recycle more. The winning Hall will get a celebratory pizza party, a Recyclemania trophy for the year, and earn bragging rights as the UMass Dartmouth Recyclemania Champions for 2010.
UMass Dartmouth is still the only university in the UMass system participating in Recyclemania. Last year the Residence Halls of UMass Dartmouth yielded 30,195 pounds (38,024 lbs if you include Cedar Dell) with Oak Glen Hall winning the competition with 2782.50 lbs. UMass Dartmouth is continuing to compete in Recyclemania’s benchmark division, meaning the school will track its numbers and compare them to other schools, but not be directly competing with them. The contest is more internal than those schools participating in the Competition Division. Based on this year’s success, UMass Dartmouth may upgrade Recylemania to the whole campus and switch to the Competition Division next year. Since the spring semester didn’t begin until January 25, the Residence Halls are off to a late start. RAs and Green Navigators from the Office of Campus and Community Sustainability will promote the competition through door-to-door education and collection campaigns.
Since its inception in 2001, Recylemania has steadily increased each year in college and university participation. 2009 saw the increase in participation to 510 schools and was the first year for which all 50 states and the District of Columbia were represented. This year, Recyclemania welcomes international schools with the participation of seven Canadian universities and one from Qatar. 2009’s Recyclemania yielded 69.4 million pounds of recyclables nationwide. The 2010 competition has continued this increase in participation with 598 schools registered.
Students can learn more about the rules and criteria for Recyclemania by talking to any RA in their Residence Hall. For more information, check out Recyclemania's official website.