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RecycleMania: Rider turns competition into educational tool

Publication Date: February 27, 2019

Rider’s Office of Sustainability is a busy place each semester and spring 2019 is no different. From plans to plant trees, attend beach sweeps, organize campus clean-ups and participate in annual Earth Day events, the hosting of Sustainability Symposium for New Jersey high school students is the icing on the cake. 

Among the various on and off campus events, Rider also participates in RecycleMania. This eight-week program began Feb. 1 and schools across the United States and Canada joined in on the friendly competition that focuses on waste reduction and recycling. Among the participants are rival schools we know well, including Stockton, Rutgers, Montclair and Stevens Institute of Technology. 

According to Keep America Beautiful, since the competition launched in 2001, millions of students from over 1,000 colleges and universities have recycled and composted roughly 730 million pounds of material during the tournament timeframe. Together, tournament participants have prevented the release of nearly 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is comparable to removing 7 million passenger vehicles from the road for one year.

Rider’s Office of Sustainability successfully turned the competition into an educational tool about the recycling streams our university has to offer. The Eco-Reps lead events for students, faculty and staff each week during RecycleMania. 

During week one, Eco-Reps focused on plastic recycling, specifically, on the labeling that is associated with plastic containers. Week two, Eco-Reps focused on paper and cardboard recycling and hosted a seed-paper planter event. Week three, Eco-Reps focused on food waste where they “weighed-the-waste” in Daly Dining Hall over a meal period where nearly 50 pounds of food waste was scraped off the plates of students heading to the dish return. Currently, in week four, Eco-Reps are focused on glass and aluminum recycling and will be hosting a Pub Trivia Night where they ask recycling-based questions on Feb. 28 from 9 to 11 p.m. in the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) Pub. 

This is freshman environmental science major Victoria Harripersad’s first time experiencing RecycleMania. 

“RecycleMania has reminded me of all the greatest green aspects that my school has to offer,” Harripersad said. “I love that Rider is working hard to ensure that every student is getting the knowledge they need about living sustainably so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to the lasting of this earth we live on. My favorite event was ‘Weigh the Waste’ because it shows me that, although 

we may not have a cafeteria that composts student food waste, it may be a strong possibility for the future.” 

There are several categories that schools could participate in. These include Waste Diversion, Food Organics, the Per Capita Classic and the subcategories include Total Recycling, Waste Minimization, Paper, Cardboard and Cans and Bottles. Each winning school in these categories receive a national recognition. 

Waste Management, Rider’s solid waste-hauling vendor, provides Rider with trash and recycling totals every week and Gourmet Dining provides the weight of food waste.  Sustainability Manager, Melissa Greenberg, inputs that data into the RecycleMania online weekly reporting tool. 

When asked what they are most excited about this RecycleMania season, junior environmental science major and Eco-Rep Rahul Mehta said, “It has to be the pub night. Last year was the first year we hosted the pub night and it was a huge success. Students really enjoy trivia no matter what the topic is, and it was really enjoyable to get to see everyone having fun. Hopefully this year the pub night will be an even greater success.” 

“RecycleManiacs” have the ability to check out their competitors as a gauge on how the competition is fairing in their waste reduction efforts. Another way to be recognized is to send RecycleMania headquarters an overview of Rider’s creative events. Last year, Rider’s Office of Sustainability was highlighted nationally for its “Day of Service” event when Eco-Reps worked with Rider service organizations on campus to participate in sustainability-based projects that benefit others. 

Hopefully, Rider is highlighted once again in 2019 as one of the best but, in order to do so, the Office of Sustainability needs your help to achieve their waste reduction and recycling goals. If everyone at Rider sorts their recycling from their trash, it will have a positive impact, not only for RecycleMania, but for our overall environmental impact.

Lauren Margel

Rider Eco-Rep

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