On your marks, get set, recycle

Virginia Wesleyan is participating in a friendly competition called RecycleMania, which is hosted by RecycleMania and the National Wildlife Federation. During the eight week competition, colleges and universities benchmark their recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities.

 According to the official website, “Colleges across the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling and trash collected each week and are in turn ranked in various categories based on who recycles the most on a per capita basis, as well as which schools have the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste and which schools generate the least amount of combined trash and recycling. With each week’s updated ranking, participating schools follow their performance against other colleges and use the results to rally their campus to reduce and recycle more.” 

Junior Skyler Lattuca is the treasurer of Marlins Go Green and is leading the RecycleMania initiative. Lattuca’s main goal is to educate and inspire the campus community of the environmental events they can get involved with.

He discovered RecycleMania through Professor Elizabeth Malcom: “Dr. Malcolm came up to me at first and said we need someone to lead it. The more I have gotten involved over the course of it so far it is interesting to see how much waste we are producing,” Lattuca said. “The more I do it, I see more things we can improve upon. I think with the techniques that I hopefully will be implementing by the end of the semester we could increase [the recycling rate] to 70 or 80%.” 

VWU is participating in the per capita, in which the university tracks the total recycling weight in relation to the school population. Also, the diversion category, which is determined by the percentage of the total weight of recyclables and food organics diverted from total waste generated. As of week two of the competition, VWU is ranked number two in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a recycling rate of 33.5%. 

Malcolm, a Professor of ocean & atmospheric sciences and the Chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is overseeing this project. Also, in the position of Director of Campus Sustainability, Malcolm promotes sustainability on campus.

 “That involves promoting education in-and-out of courses as well as sustainable practices on campus like recycling and then also outreach so working with other organizations and other groups and people in the community,” Malcolm said. 

Malcolm had several students ask her about recycling on campus so RecyleMania seemed like a good opportunity to give the campus an incentive to improve VWU’s recycling practices and outreach. Malcolm hopes this program will make the campus more aware about recycling and what they can recycle. “Also, it has been an opportunity for the university facilities management to assess their recycling,” Malcolm said. 

She also emphasized the significance of the local environment around the campus. “We have a beautiful campus and I think it is nice being surrounded by this forest and being next to Lake Taylor because we have a reminder of the natural world and how it can support our health and wellbeing,” Malcolm said. “But also it reminds us of our responsibility to be good stewards of the environment.”

Connor Merk