Students trash bad habits for Recyclemania

Molly Schneider/Guilfordian

February is an important month in the life of a Guilford student. It is the start of second semester, Black History Month and the first snowfall.

It is also the start of the Recyclemania competition.

“It’s a reason for us to pay attention to ways we can be living more sustainably,” said junior and former People’s Climate March organizer Ben Evans. “It’s a way to … encourage us to do more.”

As of Feb. 28, Guilford stands at 12 out of 214 schools with a 66 percent recycling rate.

“We recycle 66 percent of our waste stream,” said Sustainability Coordinator Bronwyn Corry. “Last year, our percentage was 62.”

The competition itself started in 2001 at Ohio University and Miami University as a way to encourage recycling in the dining halls. Guilford first started competing in 2008.

The competition begins on Feb. 1 and ends on March 29.

“We need more motivation to recycle and compost,” said sophomore and Sustainability Coalition treasurer Anna Lichtiger. “A lot of the reason we’re not very efficient is because we don’t really care.

“It is a competition between schools to give people motivation to recycle better.”

The Office of Sustainability so far has organized several events such as the Free Home Energy Conservation Workshop and a showing of the movie “Clean Bin Project.”

“(Throughout the movie) partners Jen and Grant go head to head in a competition to see who can swear off consumerism and produce the least garbage,” according to the “Clean Bin Project” website. “Their lighthearted competition is set against a darker examination of the problem waste.”

This year other groups on Guilford’s campus are getting involved as well.

“The Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker-based political organization on Capitol Hill, is hosting this weekend to help train college students how to lobby on issues they are passionate about,” said senior Nate Secrest in an email to the Sustainability Coalition.

The new Sustainability Coalition is also ready to take on Recyclemania.

“Sustainability Coalition is just starting up,” said Lichtiger. “We take on issues like the lack of recycling and composting.”

Guilford students do not plan on letting sustainability efforts end with Recyclemania.

“It’s not going to make a difference if we’re not now using those experiences,” said Evans. “It’s not over when you … get a victory.”

The problem for many students after Recyclemania is lack of incentive.

“It’s hard to make people care about something if they don’t think there’s a threat involved,” said Evans. “If no one else is going to (help), we have to.

“This is something that’s worth caring about and worth caring about for the good of our species.”

The Office of Sustainability has several ways to get involved with Recyclemania, including tabling and participating in events.

“We played a game (while tabling) where we had cutouts of (recyclables and trash),” said Corry.  “(We have) the Hazmat event, (which found) a lot of people were trying to recycle things that weren’t actually recyclable.”

The ultimate goal of Recyclemania is to eliminate use of dumpsters on Guilford’s campus.

“When we don’t have a massive dumpster, we might think twice before we throw something out of the way,” said Corry.