Southern Miss began participating in RecycleMania, a program created to show the importance of minimizing waste, on Feb. 4. The eight-week program is a competition between colleges and universities in the United States and Canada that will continue until March 31.
“The goal of RecycleMania is to bring awareness to the rising concerns of environmental issues and ways we can help offset them,” Sustainability Coordinator Melissa Covington-Olsen said. “The program aims to generate waste reduction, reduce carbon footprints and develop a growing support network for campuses across the country.”
Covington-Olsen arranged four upcoming events and activities to encourage the student body to recycle between now and March 31. Participants will “Get Caught Green Handed” between Feb. 19 and March 2. RecycleMania affiliates will be watching for recyclers on campus and award Eagle Dining coupons.
On Feb. 26, “Dorm Storm” will challenge on-campus residents to a recycling competition between dorms.
“[The dorms] try and support RecycleMania as much as we possibly can,” sophomore media production major and RA Megan Lee said. “We have dorm storms where representatives come to the residence halls and pass out flyers to encourage students to get involved in the competition on campus. Recycling is highly encouraged in the dorms, as each room has a recycling bin provided for our residents… Our campus is too beautiful to be so careless and throw our trash on the lawn or not recycle perfectly good recyclable material.”
Other events include “Spring Cleaning,” on March 12-16 and the “Recycling Olympics” beginning at 11 a.m. on March 28 on Weathersby Lawn.
Sophomore political science major Sarah Kathleen Stewart believes that Southern Miss could benefit from programs like RecycleMania.
“I’ve always been passionate about sustainability,” Stewart said. “It’s why I chose my first college, Western State Colorado University, because they had an incredible sustainability program. At Western State Colorado University, everyone automatically recycled because of a culture of sustainability where recycling was the norm.”
“This is the kind of atmosphere I want to bring to USM as a senator by increasing not only the number of recycling cans on campus but also awareness about how and what to recycle and why recycling is so important,” Stewart said.
Southern Miss has been competing in RecycleMania every year since the spring of 2009. Last year, Southern Miss came in 138th place by recycling a total of 78,260 pounds. With all colleges and universities combined, Southern Miss helped contribute to a total reduction of 65,153 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Southern Miss placed 123rd in 2016 by collecting 68,940 pounds of waste, which equals 84 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
“RecycleMania is a good platform that allows us to generate some excitement and visibility of our recycling program,” Covington-Olsen said. “Everyone can participate as there are blue recycling cans in every building on campus, and anything can go in them except food, Styrofoam, glass and books.”