UF competes to conserve


Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 12:03 a.m.

Since Sunday, The University of Florida has been competing with hundreds of other colleges and universities across the country to see which school can recycle the most material.

"RecycleMania is not just about the competition, it's also about teaching people about recycling," said Adrian Erlenbach, the publicity chair for Gators for a Sustainable campus, as well as an intern for UF's Office of Sustainability.

Erlenbach said that RecycleMania will run through April 5.

Almost 400 colleges and universities are participating in RecycleMania this year, according to RecycleMania's Web site.

"Over a 10-week period, campuses compete in different contests to see which institution can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate," the Web site states.

Recycling Day, one of RecycleMania's first events, takes place today on the Reitz Union North Lawn from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We're going to have a bunch of tables and displays to teach people about recycling, waste management and to raise awareness," Erlenbach said.

Erlenbach said filled trash bags at the event will symbolize how much recyclable material students throw away on a daily basis.

Today, volunteers will rummage through the trash cans on UF's campus to pick out all recyclable products that students have thrown away.

Erlenbach said the campus is home to about 1,000 bins for recycling paper and hundreds of blue bins for recycling cans and bottles.

In its first year of competition last year, UF came in third place for overall tonnage of recyclables collected. Rutgers University came in first and Stanford University came in second, Erlenbach said.

UF recycled 1,301,537 pounds last year, with a grand total of 41.3 million pounds being recycled across the country, according to RecycleMania's Web site.

UF's Physical Plant Division, paired with local businesses, will be collecting the recycled material from the bins around campus, weighing the tonnage and then reporting those figures to RecycleMania, Erlenbach said.

All measurements are required to be reported on a weekly basis in pounds, according to RecycleMania's Web site.

"Students should participate in RecycleMania because it's a fun competition," Keely O'Malley, a RecycleMania volunteer, said. "It's also a good way for students to learn about what they can and can't recycle."

O'Malley said that RecycleMania is still looking for volunteers and certainly wouldn't turn anyone away who was interested in helping.

Other aspects of this year's campaign include promoting RecycleMania in Gator Dining facilities, residence halls and at home basketball games.

The ultimate goal of RecycleMania is to increase student awareness of campus recycling and waste minimization, according to RecycleMania's Web site.

Every state in the U.S., except Montana, Nebraska, Kansas and Alaska, has at least one institution participating in RecycleMania, according to the Web site.

"I'm surprised and overwhelmed by the number of volunteers so far," Erlenbach said.

Students interested in getting involved with the campaign should send an e-mail to recyclemaniaUF@gmail.com.

"Every student who recycles affects our scores," Erlenbach said. "Moreover, anyone who throws away recyclable materials detracts from our scores."

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