Recyclemania: Good effort or failed attempt?

Recyclemania, a nationwide competition between 600 schools to see who recycles the most, is now in full swing after a week and a half. In 2012, AU won Grand Championship with the highest recycling rate and this year AU aims to reclaim this title.

One of the first major events to kick off Recyclemania occurred the men’s basketball game on Feb. 8. In addition to the activities held at the game, AU Green Eagles and AU Sustainability held a contest in which the first 1,000 people to bring a recyclable bottle or aluminum can received a free Coke product.

The purpose of this promotion was to raise awareness about sustainability, promote recycling and increase the number of recycled items. However, it was really a zero-sum gain outside of the Recyclemania competition since not much was accomplished in terms of helping the Earth. Green Eagles and AU Sustainability gave out as many aluminum cans as they recycled, thus continuing the cycle of buying more plastic.

The idea of recycling is for a person to recycle the bottle, then stop buying bottles and instead use reusable ones to benefit the Earth. The more people buy cans and bottles, the more companies are going to produce them to keep up with demand. To stop the production of plastic bottles, we have to cease using them and not merely perpetuate the buying of them by recycling more.

The number of plastic bottles thrown away each year could wrap around the Earth 190 times. If we encourage companies to keep producing plastic bottles by continuing to purchase them, then the number produced will increase. Instead of replacing the recyclable bottles at the game with more recyclable cans, the promotion should have given reusable bottles out to promote recycling and discourage the usage of plastic.

While this promotion publicized the idea of recycling and helped AU with the competition, but it did not promote the ideal goal of recycling – to stop the cycle.

If AU wants to reach its goal of being waste-free by 2020, then the campus must dedicate itself to the cause of recycling and composting. Whether you care about the environment or are a competitive person, Recyclemania is the time to form new habits and start taking the five extra seconds to recycle or compost.

I eat in the Tavern almost every day and nearly everything can be placed in the compost bin: the leftover food, the box, the silverware and the cup. The lid and straw are the only things that must be put in the recycling bin. Yet people continue to throw everything away in the trashcan. It doesn’t take any more physical effort to put these items in a compost bin.

Taylor Cox is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.

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