NSU is cleaning up with Recyclemania, a 10-week national competition between universities to recycle the most waste from Jan. 24 to April 2.
Schools rank in the competition based on the percentages of “waste diverted,” or the amount of waste recycled divided by the amount of waste not recycled. Last year, NSU diverted 24 percent of its waste during the eight-week competition, ranking 162nd out of 232 schools for waste diverted and 13th out of 142 schools for waste minimized.
Anthony Iovino, assistant director of waste management, reports NSU’s progress each week. To help NSU do better in the competition, he said that students should try to recycle as best they can and inform the school and SGA of issues they see that are keeping NSU from becoming more eco-friendly.
“We all need to be good stewards of the environment,” Iovino said. “Some people use scare tactics, saying if you don’t do this, terrible things will happen. But I think we just need to be smart about the planet we’re leaving for our kids and our future. If each one of us is a good steward, and we do the things we can, it will magnify and have a big effect.”
Iovino said that recycling is even more of a focus this year for NSU since NSU signed
the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, which is not just about recycling but also encompasses sustainability in general.
Campus groups are getting involved with Recyclemania this year, helping to spread the word about the competition and educate students about recycling. Green Sharks, which students started last year, is a student sustainability club focused on advocating for sustainable initiatives on campus and educating students and faculty on why sustainability is important. They introduced the Climate Pledge Act to administration at NSU.
At SEA Thursdays, Green Sharks hosts a table where students can sign a recycling pledge and check on NSU’s progress in Recyclemania.
Cassi Lobaugh, junior environmental studies major and president of Green Sharks, said that she hopes more students will start thinking about how their actions affect sustainability.
“If students are more conscious about what they’re throwing away, then they’ll remember to walk a few more steps to put something in a recycling bin, and that’s a big deal,” she said. “Every cup matters.”
For Lobaugh, Recyclemania is a way for members of the NSU community to work together.
“Everyone likes a little bit of competition, and recycling is just an important aspect of life,” she said. “We only have so many materials on this earth, and we don’t want them all going into landfills. Recycling is easy to do, but people just don’t do it.”
NSU has a single-stream recycling program, which means that recyclables don’t have to be sorted into mixed papers, glass and plastic before leaving campus, making recycling easier. Single-stream recyclables include paper, cardboard, aluminum and tin or steel cans, as well as plastic bottles and containers. Food waste, plastic bags, plastic wrap and foam cups or containers cannot be recycled at NSU.
Iovino installed a food digester last year in University School cafeteria as part of a pilot program to divert more organic waste from landfills and make NSU more sustainable. If the program is successful, he said he wants to get approval to put food digesters in more of NSU’s kitchens.
To make the campus more eco-friendly, Green Sharks wants to get rid of plastic and paper utensils and dishes in the University Center food court and create a compost garden.
“It will be really cool to set an example for Florida schools,” Lobaugh said. “If we can get students to remember to recycle, that would be a success.”
Students can put recyclables into the blue bins around campus. Some bins list what materials are recyclable and what materials aren’t. Visit recyclemaniacs.org to learn more about the nationwide initiative and NSU’s participation.