While you dump your plastic into one of the recycling bins around campus, you’re probably not keeping track of how much you recycle. But someone is.
As part of Recyclemania, a nationwide competition in which schools track the per-capita recycling rate, students volunteers, many, but not all, from the Environmental Institute have been tracking the amount of material that is recycled per week on campus, according to Mallory Fellow, Jenison junior, who organizes the competition.
“Our campus doesn’t collect recycling every day, so we only count one day (per week),” Fellows said. “We record it in gallons which gets converted to pounds, and that is what Recyclemania uses.”
According to Fellows, students submit the data that they collect to the Recyclemania Web site so that all the schools in the competition can be ranked based on the amount that is recycled per capitia. Albion is currently ranked 242 out of 292 schools, according to Recyclemania.org.
Students began tracking the recycling on Jan. 18, although the actual competition didn’t start until Feb. 1 and will run until March 28, according to Fellows.
This year’s campaign has already brought about some changes in on-campus recycling, according to Fellows.
“Currently, we haven’t really done much to encourage recycling, but one of the volunteers at the Dow recorded it for the couple of weeks, but then the bins were gone (for a short period of time),” Fellows said. “(It turns out that) the Dow put out new bins and had a meeting with everyone who works down there to encourage recycling on campus.”
Chelsea Smith, Berkley senior, has been volunteering for the program since it was founded on campus two years ago. She said that the competition was a good wake-up call for the student body.
“It is a good way to show how much of our waste can actually be recycled,” Smith said. “The school has to pay to get our garbage taken care of, but our recycling is picked up for free, so the school saves money when students and staff use the recycling centers rather than throwing everything in the trash.”
Fellows said that while the volunteers are currently publicizing the competition by setting up a table in the Kellogg Center and sitting there from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Timothy Lincoln, geology professor and director of the Environmental Institute, said that he hoped the competition would increase students’ motivation to recycle.
“(The competition) is really trying to take advantage of the competitive nature of students,” Lincoln said. “Look before you pitch something in the trash. If you make any effort at all, you can find out where and what to recycle.”