Competition promotes sustainability, waste reduction
Sunday evening, while students from East, West and South quads gathered in the Green Quad lounge to watch the kick-off of the three-hour battle between Pittsburgh and Green Bay, members of USC’s RecycleMania team celebrated the kick-off of an eight-week nation-wide sustainability competition.
USC is among the 625 schools competing in RecycleMania, a national project of the College and University Recycling Council designed to promote sustainability and waste-reduction on college campuses across the country. Every week from Feb. 6 to April 2, each participating school will submit a report of pounds recycled versus pounds trashed. The schools will be judged on pounds recycled per capita, recycling rate and amount of municipal solid waste, and winners will each receive a trophy made of recycled materials as well as bragging rights for being the most environment-friendly campus in the U.S.
This will be the second year USC has participated in the competition, and RecycleMania team manager Christine Burke, a second-year anthropology student and an intern at the Green Quad Learning Center, hopes to build on last year’s success and move higher up in the ranks.
“Nationally, we’re not one of the most progressive campuses, but we have a lot of potential — a lot of people are working hard on this project,” Burke said. “Last year we ranked 223rd, but, more importantly, we beat Clemson by two spots.”
According to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, South Carolina’s recycling rate (amount recycled in proportion to total amount of waste) is about 22 percent, 11 percent under the national average. According to University Housing Facilities management, USC’s recycling rate ranges from 10 to 13 percent.
To promote the competition on campus, RecycleMania team members will be on the lookout for environment-friendly deeds and handing out prizes, including gift certificates to Za’s Pizza, Domino’s and Insomnia Cookies, to students caught “green-handed” in the act of recycling. They will also host a sustainability fair on the Russell House patio on Feb. 16, where Students Advocating a Greener Environment and University Housing “Ecorepresentatives” will educate students about ways to minimize waste, as well as a “Recyclympics” event on March 16 on Davis field, where students can participate in recycling-themed games. The team is also promoting several multimedia awareness advertisements around campus to remind students of the “three Rs” — reduce, reuse and recycle.
First-year psychology student Tierelle Nesbit, a member of University Housing Sustainability, is eager not only for USC to defeat its in-state rival once again but for all participating students to better understand the long-term benefits of recycling.
“I think it’ll be awesome to see how many people total participate — not just to see if we beat Clemson again,” Nesbit said. “It’s all about who answers the call, and if we see a better overall turnout in recycling, then we all win.”