The final results of the 2015 Recyclemania contest at SUNY New Paltz have been tallied, and Shango/College Hall has emerged victorious, having achieved an overall diversion rate of almost 60 percent. The Shango/College Hall government will receive a $400 award for programming, food for a hall-wide celebration, and a sustainable trophy made of recycled materials.
The New Paltz Recycling Club, a student organization that administered the contest with support from the Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) and the Residence Hall Student Association (RHSA), calculated that during the six weeks of the contest, nearly 70,000 pounds of recyclable and organic material for all residence halls was diverted from landfills, a rate of approximately 43 percent of total waste.
Recycling Club President Melissa Iachetta ’15 (Geography) believes student-initiated programs like this can be effective tools for developing sustainability at the College. “We as students can get a lot done,” Iachetta said. “The Recycling Club is capable of serving as a bridge between students, faculty and administrators interested in recycling and sustainability, and I’m optimistic that we will continue to find fun and educational ways to engage sustainability issues.”
An additional “3R” social media challenge invited students to post Recyclemania-themed photos and videos to Instagram and to tag their respective residence halls. This contest was also won by Shango/College, which will receive a $75 gift card to Carry Out Kings, a New Paltz delivery service. The social media campaign was part of a larger effort to generate awareness of recycling and waste management on campus.
“It’s a more intangible way to register student participation,” said Iachetta. “I’ve seen students posting online about the Recyclemania scoreboards, talking about their halls and getting competitive about beating their friends’ halls.”
Recyclemania is a national program begun in 2001 as a friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities, and in the years since the competition has grown to include hundreds of schools and nine competition categories. The New Paltz Recycling Club brought the program to campus seven years ago, with campus recycling rates and participation showing steady growth in every year since.
This year’s competition used a more sophisticated formula for calculating each hall’s contribution than in previous years, when the weight of recycled material was simply averaged against the number of students in the hall. Diversion rate weighs total recycled and organic material as a percentage of total waste, to determine how many pounds of material are diverted from landfills.