Recyclemania, a competition that began in 2001 and involves universities across the country, returns to the campus of the University of Mary Washington, with UMW ranked sixteenth in the international competition and second in Virginia, according to the faculty newsletter.
According to Joni Wilson, director of Landscape and Grounds, recyclemania is now international because of Canada’s recent involvement in the competition.
The goal of Recyclemania is to increase awareness for students and staff to recycling and waste reduction, according to Wilson.
“We absolutely succeed at that, those main goals we accomplish,” said Wilson, in regards increasing awareness among students and staff.
Although UMW has succeeded at raising awareness about recycling among the students and staff, the University has yet to win the competition in its division.
This is the third year that UMW is competing in the Stephen K Gaski Per Capita division, which is original and most recognized division, according to Wilson.
“It allows schools our size and the University of Maryland to be more compatible,” said Wilson. By using a per capita basis, larger schools like the University of Maryland can be in the same division as schools the size of UMW.
Recyclemania helps universities increase waste reduction by increasing awareness and giving the universities benchmarks to keep the universities on task with recording the amount recycled.
“Last year during Recyclemania, we increased recycling by 30 percent,” said Wilson.
According to Recyclemaniacs.org, Recyclemania is an eight-week-long competition in which universities record and report the amount of recycling and trash collected on a per capita basis.
UMW breaks up those eight weeks into a week-by-week basis; each week beginning on a “Waste Less Wednesday”, which holds incentives for students and staff to recycle, according to Wilson.
“We try to find ways to make it easier to recycle,” said Wilson.
“I have increased recycling since being here because it’s so much easier since we have so many recycling facilities,” said sophomore and historic preservation major Emily Anderson.
According to Wilson, on the first week of Recyclemania, which began on Jan. 5, the residents of South Hall and Framar received a pizza party for attaining the highest number of collected recycling.
The second and fourth weeks are “get caught green handed” weeks. If a student or faculty member is caught recycling they receive a sticker and candy. Random stickers have a mark on them and the recipient of the marked sticker wins a prize, according to Wilson.
The third week consisted of a dumpster dive on Ball Circle. Landscaping staff brought trash from residence halls, and it was sorted through and separated into different groups of recycling, according to Wilson.
“What they had recycled out was greater than three-fourths,” said Wilson, in regards to the trash emptied from the dumpsters onto Ball Circle.
The fifth week is during spring break. It is the second annual shred event that UMW hosts and is open to the community of Fredericksburg. During this event faculty, staff and the community are able to shred confidential documents and other various articles of paper, according to Wilson.
“Although many of our weekly “Waste Less Wednesday” events are more tailored to students, we will be holding a shred event for faculty and staff over spring break, which was very successful last year,” said senior philosophy major and sustainability coordinator Will Bennett.
During the last three weeks, a pen will be built along Campus Walk between Lee Hall and Monroe Hall that recycling is to be placed in.
“People can visually see how much glass, plastic and aluminum we recycle,” said Wilson.
On the last week, the organizers of Recylemania will also be promoting the use and benefits of reusable mugs and water bottles.
During the first week of the competition, UMW recycled 6.9 pounds per person, according to Wilson.
“We definitely saw an increase the first week,” said Wilson, when comparing the first week from last year.
The total collected during the first week was 32,414 pounds which is a definite increase compared to the 24,703 pounds collected during the first week last year, according to Wilson.
However, the second week did not bring in such a drastic increase in numbers. According to Wilson the amount went down 13,000 pounds.
“Last week was more comparable with last year. I don’t know if there was a fluke,” said Wilson. “We will have to see how this third week goes.”
As of right now, UMW is 16th out of more than 250 schools.
“We have not finished in the top half before so these are encouraging results,” said Bennett.