Go green or go home

Students across campus are getting down and dirty as part of the Student Environmental Association’s (SEA) promotional campaign for RecycleMania 2009.

SEA has also been holding recycling demonstrations in front of Cooper Hall and the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza.

During these demonstrations, SEA members empty trash bins onto a tarp and separate out recyclable materials. Brittany Berta, SEA member, said many students are unaware that some of the material they throw away is actually recyclable.

Berta said she hopes RecycleMania will encourage students to take an active role in recycling.

USF joined the annual recycling competition in an effort to create a more sustainable campus, SEA vice president Brenna Dixon said.

The goal of the competition is to encourage campuses to reduce their waste stream and increase the amount of material recycled, Dixon said.

“We’re at a pretty vital point, not only as a community, but as a nation,” said Michelle Cook, SEA member. “We need to transition to a sustainable existence.”

To promote the competition, SEA members have been handing out stickers and candy to students caught recycling or “green-handed,” Dixon said.

“This is not an exclusive green movement for hippies and tree huggers — we need to get everybody on board,” Cook said. “USF is huge. We have 45,000 people on our campus, so this is basically a small city. There is a lot that we can do with just the students here to make an impact.”

More than 500 universities are participating in the 10-week competition, which ends Saturday. This is the first year USF has participated.

RecycleMania has two divisions only one of which is competitive, Dixon said. USF is participating in the non-competitive benchmark division because Physical Plant is not capable of accurately calculating the total amount of recycled materials, said SG Chief of Staff Nicole Randazzo.

SG and USF Dining Services have offered their support to SEA during the competition, Dixon said.

SG has been working to promote the competition and Dining Services is encouraging better recycling habits among employees, Randazzo said.

Dixon said that as RecycleMania ends, implementation of a collaborative SEA and SG recycling plan is beginning. The plan aims to make recycling easier for students on campus by adding large, aluminum recycling bins near the dorms, dining halls and Marshall Student Center.

With this recycling plan, Dixon said she hopes USF will eventually have a recycling bin next to every trash bin on campus. She said Physical Plant has already begun to place blue recycling bins around academic areas to make recycling easier.

The large, aluminum bins are being funded by SG.

Cook said some students might complain about tuition being raised to pay for various waste reduction and energy efficiency projects on campus.

“In the end, this (recycling plan) will only helps us,” Cook said. “(The plan) will reduce the money that is coming out of our pockets and reduce the impact that we’re having on the Earth.”

The plan for the aluminum bins was approved by the University administration in January, and a plan for the implementation of a larger campus-wide recycling program is being written, Randazzo said.

She said she had hoped RecycleMania would coincide with the recycling bin plan. However, because of issues involving the contract with the recycling company, SDH Group, the recycling bins have yet to arrive.

Dixon said she expects the bins to be on campus by the end of April.