Last Friday morning, Recycle and Resource Recovery Coordinator Robert Townsend dropped off 2060 pounds of paper waste at the Material Recovery Facilities building in downtown Kalamazoo. The paper came from two weeks of recycling at Kalamazoo College.
Townsend recorded the weight of the paper and submitted it to the national RecycleMania competition to be compared with paper recycling from other colleges around the United States. Kalamazoo College is one of the 553 colleges and universities participating in the competition. To participate, colleges from around the nation record and submit their recycling and trash weights each week for eight weeks. The weights are divided by the overall campus population and then ranked against other schools.
RecycleMania is a national contest that aims to help colleges reduce waste and spread awareness of recycling. At Kalamazoo College, the ultimate 2012 goal is not to recycle more than any other school, but rather, to minimize more waste than ever before. “We’ve gotten to a point where I don’t need rivalries with other schools,” Townsend said, “we’ve always been in the top ten in many categories. This tells us that we have the recycling dynasty. Other schools know us for this.”
Still, Townsend said one of the college’s biggest struggles is reducing trash. Students generally recycle paper and water bottles, but are often unaware that they can recycle things like pizza boxes, he said. The Recycling Department plans to create new labels on commingle stations to make it clear that glass, plastic, and metal can all be put in the commingle category. Recycling criteria can also be found on the Recycling Department’s website.
Throughout the RecycleMania competition, Townsend said students and faculty should focus on making an active choice between recycling and wasting. “Whenever you have something in your hands, think about whether it is recyclable or not and then make that choice,” he said. He wants RecycleMania to help make the K community more aware of how much we already recycle and what more can be recycled. “We can really see how good we are as a school,” HUB Co-op worker Nino Nocita (K’14) said, “we have a really great opportunity to recycle here.”
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