Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU takes on other universities in RecycleMania

For the next few months, the big blue recycling bins spread across campus will give students, faculty and staff a chance to extend the University of Denver’s friendly rivalry with Colorado College.

“We are really excited about RecycleMania,” says MJ O’Malley, head of the All Undergraduate Student Association’s Sustainability Committee. “It gives us another chance to beat CC.”

RecycleMania, a nationwide recycling contest between 345 universities, starts Sunday and goes through March 28. The goal is to reduce waste, increase recycling and raise awareness of DU’s growing push toward sustainability.

The contest began in 2001 as a friendly competition between Ohio and Miami universities and has grown each year as more universities across the nation strive for sustainability. The College and University Recycling Council, which runs the annual competition, reports that 80 percent of participating institutions see an increase in recycling collection during and after the contest. According to the council, college “green teams” are able to raise recycling awareness through friendly cross-town — or cross-state — rivalries.

The competition has several categories, all aimed at reducing a university’s waste stream. Institutions win by having the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste — by collecting the largest amount of paper, cardboard, bottles and cans in total or per person, or by producing the least amount of solid waste.

O’Malley and several student volunteers have been going to classrooms, club meetings and faculty gatherings to spread the word about the contest. Many DU community members aren’t aware, she says, that almost anything can be disposed of in the big blue bins found in nearly every building on campus.

Cans, bottles, cardboard, paper, magazines, junk mail, plastic containers (numbers 1–7), coffee cup lids (not cups) and numerous other materials are recyclable. The only things that can’t go in the bins, she says, are coffee cups, pizza boxes or anything with food or liquid waste attached.

Better yet, O’Malley says, students can avoid waste altogether by doing more electronically and not printing out everything that comes across their computers, by carrying their own coffee cups instead of buying throw-away ones, or by reusing water bottles.

“We want people to think before they throw,” O’Malley says. “It’s not just about beating CC; it’s about making people more aware of what they can do to make DU more sustainable.”

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