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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA competes with universities around the nation in the annual RecycleMania tournament

Darien Bakas
Yezan Hassan, a sophomore resident assistant at Arbol de la Vida, doing his part and recycling empty plastic bottles for Recycle Mania on Feb 13. In addition to the competition between Arizona and other colleges, Recycle Mania includes a contest between residence halls at the UA to see which hall will recycle the most.

It’s that time of year again—the annual competition, RecycleMania, is here and with it comes a slew of programs aimed toward encouraging sustainability and the importance of recycling correctly.

The program, which runs from Feb. 7 to April 2, is a national competition in which the UA competes with colleges across the country. There is also a contest between residence halls on campus to see which hall recycles the most.

RecycleMania has been part of Residence Life for at least the past decade, according to Jill Ramirez, the coordinator of sustainability education at Residence Life.

Residence halls can earn points for having residents go to programs about sustainability, holding programs with recyclable materials and competing in desk decoration competitions with recyclable materials. These points are tallied up at the end of the competition to determine who the winning hall is.

The top three halls can win prizes of $300, $200 and $100 respectively, that can be spent on purchasing sustainable items. Ramirez said past winners have bought Energy Star vacuums, motion-sensor lighting and sustainable food for hall events.

One way halls can earn points to win these prizes is by comparing of the weight of their recyclable items. Because halls have varying amounts of residents, these weights are based off a comparison between the recycling material weight in the hall during the fall semester and the weight in the spring semester. If the spring semester recycling weight average is higher than the fall semester, the hall earns points.

“You’re really just kind of competing against yourself in that way,” Ramirez said.

Over the last five years, residence halls have recycled 135,000 pounds of recyclable material during RecycleMania, according to Ramirez. The competition is about more than just recycling, however.

“Recycling is obviously a big part of RecycleMania; it’s in the name,” Ramirez said. “But we try and make it kind of a broader look at sustainability by extending it beyond just recycling and trying to focus more on the education and getting folks involved and invested in sustainability.”

Some parts of RecycleMania that are focused on education include the programs centered on sustainability that occur during the contest.

For her program, Angela Tulk, a freshman studying neuroscience and cognitive science and Spanish,and eco-rep for Árbol de la Vida Residence Hall, plans to focus on what can and can’t be recycled.

“I think for the most part people recycle, so the biggest thing for me is then ‘Are you recycling correctly?'” Tulk said. “Because there are a lot of things that if you recycle incorrectly, even if it’s just like you didn’t wash it correctly or something, then it gets thrown away when it gets sent to plants.”

According to Tulk, these RecycleMania programs are ways that make students “think about living a more sustainable life in the dorms.”

When it comes to the national competition, RecycleMania isn’t just for those who live in residence halls: the UA competes as a campus. Everything that is recycled on campus, whether in or out of residence halls, is reported by facilities management to the national RecycleMania tournament every week during the eight-week contest. The UA competes in the Gorilla category, which ranks schools based on the volume of material they recycle.

The UA ranked 42 out of 341 ranked schools with 388,952 total pounds of recycling in the results of the 2014 RecycleMania Gorilla category contest, according to the RecycleMania results sheet.

Just last year, however, the UA ranked 101 out of 311 schools in the same category and recycled about 196,207 pounds, a full 192,745 pounds less than 2014.

According to Ramirez, the UA’s score has been “slipping” every year and she said that this could be because most students aren’t aware that RecycleMania is occurring.

Grace McGuire, an undeclared freshman, is one of these students. She said she hasn’t seen anything about the contest and that she isn’t sure what the contest is. If the residence assistants in her hall were on board with the process, though, she said she would participate.

Though McGuire may not recycle specifically for the contest, the Maricopa Hall resident said she recycles regularly herself and that it is easy to do so in the dorm. “In my dorm the recycling containers are really accessible,” she said. “So I don’t think it’s hard at all really, if you remember to be on top of it.”

Though some people might not know about the contest, Ramirez said she thinks that participation in Recyclemania is “pretty widespread” and that people in every building participate in the contest.

“There’s lots of folks that really kind of take up this charge every year and get folks excited,” Ramirez said.

In order to increase awareness of RecyleMania, the Office of Sustainability is putting in a Green Fund grant for money to promote the contest campus-wide next year, according to Ramirez.

Ramirez said that she doesn’t know whether the grant will be approved, but she thinks that getting the rest of campus more involved in RecycleMania will impact our numbers in the nationwide competition.

“Every piece of recycling helps,” Ramirez said.

Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.

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