Recycling competition results in 1,800 pounds of recycled material

Cortney Kittridge takes advantage of the on-campus recycling bins

Eric Coulter

Cortney Kittridge takes advantage of the on-campus recycling bins

Molly Waite

Taking out the recycling can be a time-consuming task with sorting out the paper, plastic and glass. But this year, for those students who made the effort to recycle, the reward included an ice cream social.

Facilities Planning at Grand Valley State University hosted a housing recycling competition on the Allendale campus last month to help raise awareness about recycling and promote environmentally-friendly habits.

“This competition is an extension of our recycling, composting, waste minimization program at Grand Valley, which is an on-going program,” said Steve Leeser, operations supervisor of Facilities Services. “My main goal is to see an increase in the rate of recycling from all of our residential units.”

The winner of the competition was determined by the number of pounds recycled per resident, Leeser said. The Calder residential hall won the competition with 0.91 pounds of recycled items per resident, and the students living in Calder received an ice cream social hosted by the university.

Altogether, the residential halls on the Allendale campus collected a total of 1,873.5 pounds of recycling.

“We are constantly trying to increase the amount of recycling on campus and decrease landfill waste, hoping to reduce and reuse more frequently,” said senior Michael Medonis, the recycling intern in Facilities Services. “The competition served as a way to get students involved and raise awareness about the recycling program. Our goal was to educate younger students in housing that are unaware of the role recycling plays here on campus. It was also a fun way to prepare students for Recyclemania, which is a nationwide recycling competition.”

GVSU competes in Recyclemania annually, and Leeser said he hopes recycling events such as the housing competition will make GVSU highly competitive in its waste reduction.

“This is sort of a pre-event for Recyclemania and will hopefully raise awareness about recycling among the student body and to get the students involved in recycling early in the year so that when the big event comes up, we are already maximizing our efforts,” he said.

Medonis said he thought the recycling competition was very successful and there was a noticeable increase of recycling during the week of the competition. He also noted that the competition has had a sustained impact on recycling, as there is a significantly larger amount of recycling taking place even after the competition has ended.

Both Leeser and Medonis hope the housing recycling competition will become an annual event.

“I think the competition raised awareness and increased participation,” Medonis said. “I am hoping that Facilities Services and Housing work together next year to hold another competition. It is a fun, easy, sustainable event that is of benefit to all.”

Andy Beachnau, director of Housing and Health Services, said there is a plan to hold the recycling competition again next year. Beachnau added that the results from this year’s competition will help plan future recycling events, showing the university where additional information and programming would be useful to students.

Leeser said he thought it was important to hold sustainable events like the housing recycling competition, as it is an important part of GVSU’s commitment to sustainability.

“Recycling is part of our overall sustainability program and our part is to reduce, reuse and recycle so that we can regenerate the things that would normally become waste,” said Leeser. “As the university has grown, we have increased our efforts to reduce the amount of waste being produced.”

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