By Keri Luise, Assistant News Editor
Photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
Towson University is constantly working to create a sustainable campus environment with waste minimization through concepts such as RecycAll and composting. This spring, TU is continuing to take steps in this sustainable direction by participating in the RecycleMania program.
“The Office of Sustainability’s goal with RecycleMania is to engage as many students as possible in conversations surrounding waste,” said Patricia Watson, TU Assistant Director of Sustainability. “Not only do we want to encourage proper recycling and composting sorting, but we also want students to question their own consumption habits. Collectively we have to examine why we are generating waste in the first place and what are the unintended consequences of living a single-serve lifestyle.”
Colleges and universities across the United States and Canada participate in this friendly recycling program competition known as RecycleMania. It works to raise awareness of recycling as well as promote waste reduction activities to the involved campus communities.
According to the RecycleMania website, after the RecycleMania competition period ended at universities, “70 percent of school coordinators have reported experiencing a noticeable increase in recycling during their RecycleMania participation.”
This RecycleMania competition takes place over an eight week period in the spring semester. This year it started on Feb. 3 and will end March 30.
Participating campuses will report the amount of trash and recycling collected each week throughout this time period. They then are ranked in different levels of participation depending on a school’s goals and in different categories including diversion and food organics.
“TU started participating in RecycleMania over a decade ago as a way to demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship,” Watson said. “It’s a good platform to address waste issues and shed light on the importance of proper recycling.”
This year Towson will be participating in the diversion, per capita classic, total recycling, waste minimization, organics, and electronics categories.
According to Watson, Towson will be hosting a Fix-It Fair as part of the RecycleMania competition in the University Union in an “effort to expand the conversations beyond the bin.”
Taking place on March 12, the fair will teach students how to repair and extend the life of their clothing, bikes, and electronics.
Towson is also promoting the concept “recycle like your future depends on it” as an important part of its participation in the RecycleMania competition. Watson said this is to raise more awareness “because our choices have real-world consequences.”
TU has been involved with the RecycleMania program since 2008 and in 2017 won the national award for social media outreach and engagement efforts.
TU junior Val Kellett sees the typical efforts of Towson’s work towards a more sustainable campus environment but believes that more can be done to get students on campus even more aware and involved.
“I think they can advertise [RecycleMania] more and also maybe make more of an effort with getting the students involved,” Kellett said. “Just find a way to make students more aware of what they’re throwing out and how they can help.”
TU junior Olivia Balog agrees with Kellett as she thinks “TU can definitely do better when it comes to recycling and sustainability, but we are on the right track.”
Outside of the competition Towson works daily to create a desirable sustainable campus environment. TU hosts education and outreach tabling events including waste sorting games. The university also conducts waste audits and provides support for zero waste events.
“For our on-campus residents, URG provides a free recycling bin per room,” Watson said. “And if you’d like to become a waste expert, you can also schedule an educational training through the Eco-Reps.”
Before the competition, TU students also helped with lunchtime sorting near the donation cans in Susquehanna.
“Sustainability is key to our environment,” Balog said. “It’s important to keep our world clean. As students, it’s our responsibility to do the best that we can to maintain sustainability because it starts with us. We need to be the role models for future generations to keep the world clean.”