Friday, February 11, 2011

Recyclemania 2011

In case you didn’t catch the campus-wide email and the article on Georgetown’s website, Sunday marked the beginning of Recyclemania! Recyclemania is a national, ten-week competition to increase recycling among over colleges and universities. Schools like Georgetown report data about recycling rates and amounts of trash, and are ranked weekly according to four factors: the amount of recyclables per student, the total amount of recyclables, the amount of trash per student, and the school’s overall recycling rate.

The competition involves 630 schools, 6 million students, and over 1.5 million staff and faculty, in forty-nine states, Canada, and—of course—here in the District. Last year’s competition involved 607 schools, which collected over 84.5 million pounds of recyclables.

At Georgetown, Recyclemania is led by the Office of Sustainability, University Facilities, and the Office of Student Housing. Nationally, it is run by the College and University Recycling Council, with support from Keep America Beautiful and the EPA’s WasteWise Program, as well as The Coca-Cola Company, Alcoa, Waste Management, SCA and the American Forest & Paper Association.

Recyclemania lists its goals as the following:

1. Have a fair and friendly recycling competition.

2. Increase recycling participation by students and staff.

3. Heighten awareness of schools' waste management and recycling programs.

4. Expand economic opportunities while addressing environmental issues in a positive way.

5. Lower waste generated on-campus by reducing, reusing and recycling.

6. Have the competition act as a catalyst for colleges and universities to build and expand waste reduction programs on campus.

Schools enter in one of two divisions: Benchmark and Competition. The Benchmark division is less official. It is open to any school in the world, but participants are not included in rankings or eligible to win the competition. The emphasis is more on improvements that one school makes for itself over time, rather than on competition with other schools.

Georgetown is in the official Competition division, which includes the weekly rankings and eligibility to win in any of five categories: Grand Champion, which takes into account both a decrease in the amount of trash and an increase in the recycling rate; Per Capita Classic, which measures the amount of recyclables collected per capita; Waste Minimization, which measures the least amount of both trash and recyclables produced; Gorilla Prize, which measures the total amount of recyclables for larger schools; and Targeted Materials, which focuses on the recycling of paper, cardboard, bottles and cans, and food service organics.

This year, Georgetown is focusing on the Grand Champion and Waste Minimization categories. This means that everyone here at Georgetown—students, faculty, staff, visitors—have to work together to recycle as much as possible and produce as little waste as possible!

When it comes to recycling, Georgetown’s sustainability website provides multiple pages of information about what, where, and how to recycle on campus. You’d be surprised at how much is really recyclable. Georgeotwn recycles all of these materials, and the website provides a list of locations to do so on campus:

  • Aluminum cans
  • Batteries
  • Bicycles
  • Cardboard
  • Cell phones
  • Chemicals
  • Chemical storage jugs
  • Clothing
  • Coffee cups
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Computers and disks
  • Electronics
  • Furniture
  • Glass bottles
  • Ink cartridges
  • Laboratory glass
  • Metal
  • Newspapers
  • Paper
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic bottles and containers

The Office of Sustainability also provides clear information about recycling in your residence hall, and what to put in each compartment of every kind of recycling bin on campus. And if you still have questions, they have a helpful FAQ that addresses issues like recycling at club meetings and events.

You can also watch a classic video by our very own Eco-Actioners about recycling on campus, featuring Kristin Ng, this blog's creator!

Of course, as they address at the end of the video, the ultimate goal is to reduce the consumption of waste in general—whether it’s recyclable or just trash. Carry a reusable water bottle and a travel mug so that you won’t need ot use plastic water bottles and cardboard or styrafoam coffee cups. Print double-sided in Lauinger, and print less or no paper when possible. Read the Hoya and the Voice online instead of in print. Reuse paper for scrap before you recycle it. When you buy food, take into consideration how much packaging a product contains, so that you’ll produce less trash when you’ve finished. Use silverware rather than taking plastic utensils at Grab n’ Go, and use fewer napkins at Leo’s.

These are all simple, easy ways to reduce your waste, and most of them have other benefits for you as well. Even if you can’t get excited about environmentalism, you can probably respond to the message of school spirit. Georgetown excels in so many areas—teaching, research, social justice, spirituality, and athletics, to name a few. Why shouldn’t we excel in environmentalism, as well?

This is a school of incredibly smart, capable students, and an engaged faculty and staff. We shouldn’t have any problem working together in a competition that’s not only good for the planet, but great for our school. So get into the spirit of Recyclemania, and reduce, reuse, and recycle to make Georgetown a winner! Hoya saxa!


  1. So, a few minutes ago, I was thinking to myself, "Self, I wonder if Recyclemania has officially started yet." And I decide on a whim to visit the blog, and there's a post on it!

    Go Hoyas!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. This is a great article and video. Where did Georgetown purchase the blue recycle bins?

  4. Carlos - the blue bins are manufactured by Rubber Maid, and Facilities ordered them as part of a university-wide initiative to standardize recycling bins on campus