Campus kicks off sustainability competition


Photo by Sarina Tracy

Five-time Suffolk mainstay RecycleMania kicked off Monday with Suffolk Sustainability and the university’s community. The event was held in Archer’s Munce Conference Room.

RecycleMania is a 10-week national waste reduction and recycling competition. Founded in 2001, RecycleMania only had two competitors: Ohio University and Miami University. In 2004, the number grew to 17, as RecycleMania partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program to enhance and expand the competition. This year, 630 colleges are competing, representing six million students and over 1.5 million staff and faculty.

The competition commenced on Sunday, and will run until April 2. As of Monday, Suffolk was ranked number 18 in the nation regarding its cumulative recycling rate of 49.23 percent. Last year at the end of the RecycleMania’s 2010 competition, Suffolk was ranked third in Massachusetts and in the top 10 percent nationally.  This year, Erica Mattison, Campus Sustainability coordinator, says this year’s goal is to be in the top five percent.

“Sure, we can do it,” said Mattison.  “We have a ways to go, but if people commit, it is definitely possible.”

Schools report recycling and trash data which are then ranked according to who collects the greatest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or has the highest recycling rate.

Composting, a big theme of the kick-off party (which housed two brand-new composting receptacles), has been present in the kitchens of Suffolk since 2007. This year’s students living on campus will see separate compost areas in dining halls and Suffolk-hosted events.

The kick-off party had a sustainable food table filled with local, organic dishes like ginger mousse with apples, apple cider, tomato-mozzarella kabobs, and crackers with cheese.  Compostable plates, cutlery and cups were used.  Raffles and eco-games like “Recycl-a-ball” and “Recycl-a-bowl” were accompanied by the music of eco-conscious Jack Johnson in the background.

Information cards, pamphlets and instruction booklets were available, instructing people on the materials that were recyclable and those that were compostable.  Pledge sheets, designed to resolve guests to make eco-friendly goals were available, with one woman pledging to recycle the many old cell phones she has forgotten about.

The competition is a benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities to their campus communities through rivalry. In addition to this national competition, there is an internal competition among the different residence halls of Suffolk University: Miller Hall, 150 Tremont and 10 West, along with the administrative buildings.  The building with the least trash and most recycling for the months of February and March will receive a building-wide bash.