Competition takes trash off campus

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Kayla Bunge
April 3, 2009
— It’s the journey—not the destination—that matters when it comes to going green.

“If you come up with a big list of things you have to do, you’re not going to do it,” said Wes Enterline, sustainability coordinator at UW-Whitewater.

“But if you pick out a couple things and make them a part of your everyday life, that’s what makes a big difference.”

At the top of the university’s list: recycle more paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastic and glass.

But how do you get more than 10,000 students to kick the habit of throwing stuff away? Make it a competition.

UW-Whitewater participated in RecyleMania, an annual 10-week recycling competition among more than 500 colleges and universities across the country.

The competition is an all-encompassing recycle-a-thon, with categories ranging from which school collected the largest amount of recyclables per person to which school generated the least amount of garbage per person.

“Recycling in general is a good place to start with sustainability,” Enterline said. “Most people already recycle, and (a competition such as this) is a great way to get the campus on board.”

The competition ended March 28, and the final results will be available April 17.

UW-Whitewater set out to achieve a recycling rate of 35 percent.

While the campus didn’t meet its goal, it improved—and that’s important, Enterline said.

UW-Whitewater produced 317,980 pounds of garbage and 125,890 pounds of recyclables during the 10-week competition.

That translates into a recycling rate of 28 percent, a 4 percent improvement from its average recycling rate of 24 percent.

Enterline said the university already has plans to use the momentum to continue improving recycling on campus.

Plans include continuing to monitor the amount of garbage and recycling it produces, providing students with recycling guidelines when they move into the dorms and improving signs on recycling receptacles on campus, he said.

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