Weighing the impact

The trash we toss in the concrete cans around campus as we scurry back and forth, is safely out of sight and out of mind.

But the candy wrapper or soda bottle is just beginning a journey, one that will likely end in a sprawling nearby landfill. The average American produces about a ton of waste each year. Landfills are growing daily to accommodate the influx of garbage. Some of it contains harmful chemicals that are released as the garbage degrades. It poses a major hazard to people, communities and the environment, since a recent survey found nearly 82 percent of landfills had a substantial degree of leakage, according to zerowasteamerica.org.

Yet waste is a problem everyone contributes to, and a problem everyone can fix. And it’s Recyclemania’s goal to help bring about that change.

Recyclemania, a nationwide competition between universities encourages participants to both recycle more and produce less waste. Starting Jan. 27 and running through April 5, Northern Kentucky University will be weighing its garbage output weekly on a large scale in the University Center. NKU hopes to reach a weight of roughly ten pounds of waste per person.

“By reducing, reusing and recycling, we can minimize the amount of campus waste that ends up in a landfill,” says Larry Blake, assistant vice president for facilities management. “We feel that it is our responsibility to serve as a regional leader in environmental stewardship.”

This is NKU’s first year of involvement in the Recyclemania program, which was began in February 2001 as a contest between Ohio University and Miami University in a effort to help raise awareness and use of both campus’ respective recycling programs. Since then, the program has grown rapidly, boasting 201 participating schools in 2007 (recyclemaniacs.org).

Producing the least amount of waste per person when the ten week span comes to a close would mean taking first place and clinching the Bowling Pin Trophy, an award given out to the most eco-friendly school each year since 2004.

Regardless of who wins out come April, the effect Recyclemania promises to have on the well-being of our region and our planet, especially in introducing new people to recycling and therefore lessening use of landfills, will have been more than enough reason to participate. Many, including Blake, see this as a great first step for anyone who has been meaning to go green. ” The event is an opportunity for everyone on campus to make a positive impact on the environment.” Blake said.