February 8, 2012
MACOMB, IL -- Did you know that recycling one ton of paper can save 17 trees? (Source: U.S. National Park Service "recycling quiz" -- nps.gov).
It's easier than ever to recycle, especially at Western Illinois University, thanks to "co-mingled" recycling bins that allow consumers to throw their recyclables -- bottles, cans, plastic and paper -- into one bin. But a great way to do even more is through the annual RecycleMania contest, a national competition that pits colleges and universities against one another to measure which institutions can reduce, reuse and recycle the most campus waste. The contest kicked off Sunday, Feb. 5 and runs through March 31. According to RecycleMania.org, more than 630 colleges are participating in 2012, representing six million students and more than 1.5 million staff and faculty. Last year's event resulted in 91 million pounds of recovered recyclable materials.
Western collected more than 121,000 pounds (more than 60 tons) of recycling during the eight weeks of the 2011 competition.
During the contest, schools report recycling and trash data, and then are ranked according to which institution collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita or has the highest recycling rate. With each week's reports and rankings, participating schools watch how their results fluctuate against other schools and use this to rally their campus communities to reduce and recycle more.
"Western has a great recycling program in place, but we still see recyclables in regular trash bins," said WIU Sustainability Coordinator Mandi Green.
"Recyclemania is a time when you can teach your peers, your colleagues and others about the importance of recycling. It takes everyone within our community to make WIU's recycling program exceptional."
Each week during RecycleMania at WIU, staff from Western's Physical Plant will collect and record the amount of recyclables from each residence hall on campus. Waste Management assists the campus community during the next eight weeks by separately weighing each hall's recycled material for more accurate data collection. Schools can then check their standings online.
In addition to participating in RecycleMania, Green and members of the University's Sustainability Committee, encourage the campus community to take the "WIU Sustainable Pledge," which can be found at wiu.edu/student_services/university_union/sustainability and facebook.com/pages/Sustainable-WIU-Pledge/140734449369586.
"We all make choices every day that make an impact on the environment. Sometimes it is difficult to understand how even small choices like using a recyclable water bottle can make a difference. The little choices we make do have an impact when many of us make the same choice; collectively we have the power to make a difference," said Karen Peitzmeier, WIU Peace Corps Fellows faculty assistant and member of the Sustainability Committee. "The Sustainable WIU Pledge asks us to be conscious of our choices."
Other sustainable initiatives at Western, to name just a few, include the Rocky Bikes program, the Hertz on Demand program, a sustainable lunch hour programs every Tuesday through March 27 where participants can learn about the various efforts at Western and a "Pledge Tree," made of recycled metal, which was created by Robert Brownlow of the art department and art students, is touring the residence halls during the month of March.
To learn even more about environmentalism and sustainability, take part in Western's annual Environmental Summit, which will be held April 4 in the University Union.
RecycleMania began in February 2001, when Ed Newman from Ohio University and Stacy Edmonds Wheeler from Miami University decided that something had to be done to increase recycling in the residence and dining halls on their campuses. During the inaugural 10-week competition, Miami University and Ohio University battled to see which school could recycle the most. Western has participated in RecycleMania since 2006.
For more information on WIU's recycling program and other sustainable initiatives, visit wiu.edu/vpas/sustainability/recycling.php or contact Green at (309) 298-1834 or at SA-Green@wiu.edu. For more in RecycleMania, visit recyclemania.org