How much would you recycle if your reputation depended on it? What about if your school’s reputation depended on it? This is just the spirit the organizers of Recyclemania tap into with their annual recycling competition. Beginning in 2001, with a recycling challenge between Ohio University and Miami University, Recyclemania has grown to include over 600 schools!  For a period of 8 weeks, colleges in the United States and Canada report the amount of recycling collected on a weekly basis and are then ranked in various categories such as best recycling rate per capita and who generates the least amount of recycling and trash combined. Then, as the results start coming in, each school (especially diehard rivals) has a more relatable incentive to motivate their student body to recycle to the max and beat opposing teams’ scores! Congratulations to American University, 2012’s overall grand champion with an impressive landfill diversion rate of 85.16% throughout the span of the competition.

The recyclemaniacs claim the competition is responsible for a large spike in overall recycling rate of the participating schools and that it clearly boots the visibility of recycling efforts during the span of the contest. 8 weeks is plenty of time to start new habits and I’m sure after the winners have been revealed most new recyclers continue the good work!  My favorite thing about this event is that it uses a common personal green activity, recycling, and effectively turns it into a team sport with astounding results, especially at schools with big sports programs.

I grew up recycling but I recognize that many of us did not; Recyclemania makes me hopeful that any college student with a competitive spirit will be inspired to participate in such a worthy cause. It even seems this competition format would work at any school level and possibly even between rival corporations (imagine battle of the silicon valley giants: Facebook vs. Google vs. Apple vs. HP). Wouldn’t that be something?


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