Since February universities and colleges across the US have been participating in a little friendly competition.  It’s called RecycleMania!  Over 6.2 million students and staff at over 600 colleges and universities in 50 states across America are competing to see which campus can recycle the most and help effectively reduce the most CO2 from the atmosphere.  The 2012 winner will be announced April 13th. The RecycleMania competition has been going on annually since 2001.  Nationally the competition is spreading and now includes related competitions like a recycle video competition while some campuses are sponsoring recycling related competitions to raise awareness through recycled art exhibits and eco-fashion shows. 

The major surprise for me when I discovered this event was taking place on such a large scale was to learn that though over 30 universities and colleges in Texas are competing not one school in the Austin area is on the list – not a public university, private university/college, community college or parochial college/university in Central Texas is included on their list of participants.  Hopefully that will change in the near future!

On RecycleMania’s website they say, “More than 40 years after the first Earth Day celebration recycling is commonplace in many communities, yet a surprisingly high amount of recyclables still go in the trash.”  The reason for the competition is to increase awareness and effective recycling habits by using school spirit to inspire and motivate. 

Their goals are simple:

  • Motivate students and staff to increase recycling efforts and reduce waste generation.
  • Generate attention and support for campus recycling programs.
  • Encourage colleges to measure and benchmark recycling activity in their effort to improve their programs over time.
  • Have a fair and friendly competition.

Kim Cobb, co-chair of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Sustainability Committee, which is co-sponsoring RecycleMania with the student Environmental Society at SMU said, "… the whole point of this competition is to raise awareness and change behavior. There will come a point where SMU recycles less just because we're using less disposable material – and that's the real goal, isn't it?" 

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