2017 RecycleMania Results

A wrap-up of Cornell's Annual Waste Reduction Competition


Summary written by Cynthia Bensburg '17, Student Sustainability Coordinator, Campus Sustainability Office, 6/12/17

Every year Cornell participates in RecycleMania, an 8-week competition and benchmarking tool for colleges and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities on their campuses. R5 (Respect, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) measures and reports the amount of recycling and trash collected each week during the competition in order to calculate Cornell’s waste diversion rate.Cornell’s 2017 official weekly results can be found here. The categories evaluated within the competition are:

  • Diversion (weekly recycling rate %);
  • Per Capita Classic (lbs/person);
  • Total Recycling (lbs), Waste Minimization (lbs/person);
  • Food Organics (lbs/person). 

For the 2017 competition, the Cornell Campus Sustainability Office partnered with Cornell’s Environmental Collaborative (ECO) in order to co-facilitate a RecycleMania Steering Committee. This committee was comprised of delegates from active student groups on campus who were interested in helping to put on events and campaigns related to themes found within the RecycleMania competition such as increasing campus awareness surrounding waste generation and proper disposal and recycling. Each week of the competition was championed by a different student group on campus who organized waste-orientated events or campaigns.

Week 1: Campus Sustainability Office
February 5 - 11
Green Game – To kickoff the competition, the CSO partnered with Cornell Athletics to put on a RecycleMania themed basketball game for the Green Game division of the Recyclemania competition. The waste generated at this game was sorted and weighed by R5. In previous years, Recyclemania has showcased Cornell in this division because of Cornell’s excellent crowd engagement.

Week 2: R5
February 12 - 18  

Recyclemania 2017 Kick the Cup poster

Starting this week, R5 and the CSO partnered together to put on Kick the Cup Coffee with R5 on Ho Plaza every Wednesday where free coffee, hot chocolate, or tea was given out to those who brought their reusable mug.    

Week 3: Society for Natural Resource Conservation (SNRC)
February 19 - 25      
SNRC put on a photo campaign capturing “mugshots” of students who utilize reusable mugs or water bottles around campus.

Leta Selmanovic
Leta Selmanovic "I got this jacket when I was visiting my friend in Red Hook, NY. I got it for $10 at a thrift store..."

Week 4: Cornell Thrift
February 26 - March 4      
Cornell Thrift held a Mending Workshop, put on a #behindtheseams photoshoot, and organized a trip to go thrifting in the Ithaca Commons. ECO also put on their third ECO Dialogue of the year titled “Faced with Waste? Ridding of the unnecessary and living sustainably”.

Week 5: Alpha Phi Omega (APO)
March 5 – 11 
APO held a Collegetown Clean-Up service event where litter was picked up in the Collegetown neighborhood and was sorted into landfill and recycling by volunteers.

Week 6: The Guild of Visual Artists
March 12 - 18               
The Guild of Visual Artists held a paper mache workshop in Slope Studio using recycled newspapers and discarded objects.

Week 7: Greeks Go Green (GGG)
March 19 – 25 
GGG highlighted a different Greek house at Cornell every day that engages in and supports sustainable behaviors including chapters that have Sustainability Chairs, participate within the CU Thrift network with an in-house clothing donation bin, and recycle and compost within their houses. Chapters that were showcased include Delta Delta Delta, Alpha Chi Omega, Phi Gamma Delta, and Alpha Xi Delta.

Week 8: Take Back the Tap (TBTT)
March 26 - April 1         
TBTT held a reusable bottle drive where they set up collection boxes around campus where people could drop off their extra water bottles so they could be distributed to people who need them.

Closing Event: Environmental Collaborative (ECO)
April 15th 
ECOuture – Cornell’s RecycleMania closing event was a sustainability themed fashion show bringing attention to unsustainable aspects of the fashion industry. Students created looks highlighting upcycling clothing and created pieces made from recycled materials.

Representatives from the following groups were also present on the RecycleMania Steering Committee: Cornell Dining, Cornell Waste Council, and WasteNot.

During the 2017 competition, Cornell’s cumulative GHG Reductions from waste reduction and diversion totaled 873 metric tons of CO2 or the equivalent of 171 cars off the road or the energy consumption of 76 households (Numbers derived from the US EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM).

Thank you to the R5 staff responsible for weighing and recording the waste generated during the extent of the competition and to the representatives and participating student clubs within this year’s competition working towards increased campus engagement and sustainable behavior change.

Looking to get involved?

RecycleMania is a campus-wide engagement campaign therefore everyone participates in the competition whether they know it or not! It is important to be mindful of your consumption and waste generation and disposal every day, not just during the RecycleMania competition.

If you would like to join the RecycleMania Steering Committee directly or have any feedback or suggestions for future events or campaigns, you can contact the CSO(Campus Sustainability Office) at sustainability@cornell.edu. If you would like to join any of the clubs involved with RecycleMania you can find each group’s contact information on their websites or you can contact ECO at eco.cornell@gmail.com and they will provide the information for each organization.

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.