In six hours, UB goes through 9,600 pounds of trash, and almost 90 percent of it is recyclable. Raising awareness to this fact is the premise of Recycle Mania, a 10-week nationwide competition between colleges to see who can really turn it around and recycle.
The nationally sponsored competition, organized here by UB Green and the Student Association Environmental Affairs Department, is an opportunity for students to get involved with recycling in a fun way.
Recycle Mania is a friendly competition meant to foster eco-friendliness and recycling awareness in its participating schools. Over the 10 weeks, schools report their numbers for recycling and trash, and once everything is counted, they are ranked according to the highest number of recyclables, the least amount of trash, and the highest overall recycling rate. The competition emphasizes the importance of recycling and encourages students to incorporate it into their daily lives.
"The little things go a long way," said Mike Alcazaren, a senior aerospace and mechanical engineering major and the SA environmental affairs department's director. "[Recycling] is a very simple and easy thing to do; it's a difference of maybe a foot between a recycle bin and a garbage can."
The environmental affairs department wants to encourage students to recycle and go green, putting signs on garbage cans around campus that say, "Stop, can this be recycled?" and promoting the "Getting Caught Green Handed" program. This program, run by the environmental affairs department, applauds students who are being environmentally conscious and rewards them for their eco-friendly actions.
A student caught "green-handed" – or recycling – by members of the SA environmental affairs department or members of the SA government E-board, will be given prizes such as reusable water bottles.
"Recycling is important because all that stuff needs to go somewhere other than just a landfill, and we can use less energy as well to help reduce our impact on the world," Alcazaren said.
Recycle Mania is all around campus, and clubs should also watch out for a video contest between clubs, sponsored by the Environmental Affairs Department. The top three videos created by clubs about how they recycle will win a prize. Students can also track UB's weekly progress on the status boards placed at campus entrances, and by visiting UB Green's Facebook page.
"We have been improving for the past four years," Alcazaren said,
The competition also promotes eco-friendliness in all aspects of everyday life.
"Something else students can do besides recycling is to consume renewably sourced products and reusable products," said Matt Kopalek, a senior international business major and the SA environmental affairs department's materials communication representative. "[Students] should take note and encourage friends to recycle."
Not only is recycling beneficial for the environment, it is also good for the school, with UB receiving money for certain recyclables, such as paper. Last year, UB placed second in the SUNY system, per capita, during Recycle Mania.
"Recycling is not just a ‘nice' thing to do, it is the smart thing to do," said Emily Gibson, a junior communication major and the student representative in the communication and outreach subcommittee of the environmental affairs department. "By recycling, you're not just improving the world of those around you, you're improving the world that you live in. too, and the effort that you put in to [recycle] is a lot less than the cost of not [recycling]."
Recycle Mania began Jan. 17 and will run through March 27, with the first two weeks having been counted as "trial" weeks and the other eight for the actual competition. The final results will be announced at the end of the contest, after all the data has been compiled. Every recycle bin in the school gets weighed to contribute to the university's numbers, so look at that water bottle you are about to throw away- and recycle it instead.