RecycleMania competition encourages Lehigh University community to recycle


Lehigh Sustainability is participating in a RecycleMania tournament from Feb. 2 to March 29.

RecycleMania is a friendly competition that allows programs on collegiate campuses to track their recycling efforts, with the hope that the overall waste of the campuses will be reduced.

The competition began in 2001, when only Ohio University and Miami University in Ohio participated in the effort.

The four goals of the tournament are to “motivate students and staff to increase recycling efforts and reduce waste generation; generate attention and support for campus recycling programs; encourage colleges to measure and benchmark recycling activity in their effort to improve their programs over time; and have a fair and friendly competition,” the RecycleMania website said.

This is Lehigh’s second year participating in the tournament.

“Last year was trying to see if it was plausible,” said Katie Klaniecki, Lehigh’s sustainability program coordinator.

In order to compete, the university’s trash haulers need to be able to take the weight of all garbage so that it can be submitted to RecycleMania.

It was successful, Klaniecki said, so this year’s effort is going to be campus-wide, and Lehigh Sustainability wants to try to be a stronger overall competitor.

“Lehigh is increasingly taking the initiative to become more sustainable,” said Tori Yu, ’16, the Greek program coordinator for Lehigh Eco-Reps. “Participating in RecycleMania is a great way to educate Lehigh students and faculty about how to correctly recycle, increase recycling rates, and it’s also a great friendly competition among over 400 colleges across the country.”

The goals of Lehigh Sustainability for this year include achieving a 40 percent recycling rate during competition and to place within the top 50 schools in the per capita classic division, Klaniecki said.

Results will be published every Friday via the Lehigh Sustainability Facebook page. Statistics are also posted on the RecycleMania website.

Last year, Lehigh placed 60th in its category with 19.87 pounds of recycling being collected per person. In total, Lehigh recycled 163,100 pounds of material.

In order to increase these numbers, Lehigh Sustainability and the Eco-Reps are planning many activities to promote recycling around campus.

“Our Eco-Reps are planning many exciting events during RecycleMania, including a kick-off event, reusable water bottle giveaways for people seen recycling and make-and-take Friday in Lamberton,” Yu said. “For one of our events, our Eco-Reps will be collecting coffee cups and putting together a ‘coffee cup tree’ that will be showcased around campus to represent how wasteful disposable cups are.”

Eco-Reps will be promoting recycling at “Game Day: Basketball Challenge,” the Feb. 12 Lehigh women’s basketball game against American University. They will help teach fans how to recycle properly at an athletic complex and will also hold giveaways and raffles.

Other universities plan to hold similar events, and there is a smaller RecycleMania competition to see which school recycles the most at a basketball game.

Lehigh Sustainability is looking to reach out to everyone possible — students, staff and faculty, Klaniecki said. Eco-Reps are going to be stationed around campus during the eight weeks of competition. For instance, they may spend a few hours at the gym, encouraging people to use reusable water bottles. Or they may spend time at an on-campus dining facility, encouraging people to use their own coffee mugs.

Individual efforts contribute to doing well in this tournament.

“Everybody can have a part in this competition; it all adds up really quickly, even just recycling your water bottle at the gym can help,” Klaniecki said.

“Our goal is to increase our campus recycling rate and to further educate our community about correct recycling rules,” Yu said. “Bethlehem, like any other city, has its own rules and regulations to what can be recycled and what can’t be. During RecycleMania, we hope to motivate people to recycle more.”

The schools that win in each category are recognized via a national press release, and are presented with an award that is constructed of recyclable materials. The schools also host the RecycleMania trophy for a year.

The effort to help spread the word is going to be big this year, Klaniecki said.

For those who want to help, Eco-Reps meet every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m., and anyone is welcome to attend.

“By the end, everyone should have heard about it and know about it,” Klaniecki said.

Story by Brown and White news writer Sam Tomaszewski, ’17.

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