Ithaca College will be curbing its consumption and watching its waste in the coming weeks as part of Recyclemania, a recycling competition, for the seventh year in a row. The college hopes to improve from previous years by working harder to raise awareness among the students.
Mark Darling, sustainability programs coordinator for facilities services, has monitored the college’s waste and recycling practices since the early ’90s. He said the competition allows the college to compare its numbers with other campuses’ programs.
“It’s a way to benchmark ourselves against other institutions so we can see how good we are,” he said.
Recyclemania is an eight-week competition where colleges and universities across the country and in Canada report the amount of recycling and trash they collect each week. This year, 553 schools registered for the tournament, which began Feb. 5 and ends March 31.
For the first week of the competition, the college had a 27 percent recycling rate. For the 2011 competition, the college’s recycling rate average was 32 percent.
Junior Rachel Lowy, an eco-rep with the Resource and Environmental Management Program, a division of the Office of Facilities, is one of the organizers for Recyclemania. She said about 20 to 30 people, including faculty and staff, are working on the event.
The event does award prizes, but Lowy said that’s not the college’s motivation for getting involved.
“We really just want to recycle more,” she said. “It would be cool if we could actually get some prizes, but that’s not really our main goal.”
In order to encourage student participation, the eco-reps will host events throughout the eight-week period.
“We’re making announcements in our classrooms, and we’re going to host a trip to the recycling center downtown to show people how recycling actually works,” Lowy said. “We’re also hoping to plan an event that would be a recycled arts and crafts fair.”
Stephanie Piech, sustainability coordinator for Dining Services, said Sodexo will also participate in the event.
“We are partnering with REMP to hold some different kinds of educational events,” she said.
One Sodexo campaign, Weigh the Weight, which will be held throughout the semester, will have students weigh the food remnants on their plates to show how much food is wasted.
Lowy said they plan to use the numbers collected for the competition to show students how much waste is really produced.
“We’re hoping to post the weights of everything in a centralized location so people can actually see what’s happening,” she said.