The University of Mary Washington has finished first in Virginia and 18th overall in the annual RecycleMania competition. RecycleMania is an eight-week recycling competition among colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada designed to promote waste reduction practices in campus communities. This year, UMW was one of 338 schools in the Per Capita Classic Competition, using the percentage of recycled materials per person.
The RecycleMania competition increases awareness about sustainable practices and shows students how their efforts can make a difference. Every week schools record and report their amount of recycled materials.
To earn 18th place, UMW recycled 37.96 pounds of materials per person in eight weeks, the equivalent of more than 200,000 pounds of materials kept out of landfills.
UMW greatly increased its efforts in the 2012 competition, finishing 215 places better than their 233rd place in the competition last year. For those involved with the university’s sustainability initiatives, the high ranking in RecycleMania reflects how hard UMW has been working to live sustainably. Many events were held to get the UMW community involved in RecycleMania efforts.
“We did a dumpster dive on Ball Circle,” said Will Bennett, UMW sustainability coordinator and student chair of the President’s Council for Sustainability. “About half of what we found in the dumpsters was recyclable.”
“Waste-Less Wednesdays” and other sustainable activities helped keep RecycleMania efforts moving. A paper-shred event recycled 17,400 pounds of paper, an increase from 5,000 pounds of paper at last year’s event.
“The friendly competition weeks help to remind ourselves that we’re doing a good job with recycling,” said Joni Wilson, director of landscape and grounds at UMW.
During the eight weeks, 182 Metric Tons of CO2 equivalent were kept out of the atmosphere, which is equal to taking 97 cars off the road or the energy consumption of 48 households.
The competition may be short, but UMW’s sustainability efforts continue year round, Wilson explained. The Do One Thing campaign, D.O.T., encourages UMW students to help the world socially, culturally, economically and environmentally by doing at least one sustainable action. This year, UMW added 25 recycling receptacles to campus in response to a recommendation from the UMW Eco-Club. For the second year in a row, graduating seniors will wear biodegradable regalia.
Wilson hopes UMW’s sustainability efforts are known and appreciated by the Fredericksburg community.
“Our community should be proud of the university,” Wilson said. “They don’t always realize the multitude of really marvelous things that the students do.”
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News release prepared by: Julia Davis