“STJ Green Storm” embarks on recycling revolution

St. John’s is stepping up to the plate when it comes to Going Green. The university is participating in “Recyclemania” for the third year in a row, with the hopes to “[collect] the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, the least amount of trash per capita, or have the highest recycling rate.”

Along with 630 other colleges across the nation, St John’s hopes to show the rest of the nation that college students care about the earth by “Reducing, Reusing and Recycling.”

The competition, which spans over a ten week period, is split into two categories; the Competition Division and the Benchmark Division. St. John’s is registered in the Competition Division with over 20,000 students coming together to help reduce the carbon footprint on campus.

“[The university’s goal is] to get 35% recycling, including food. We are at 25% so far with three weeks [of the competition left] to go,” said Tom Goldsmith, Facilities Services Director of Environmental and Energy Conservation. “We hope that the students will help ‘Fight Global Warming by Recycling.'”

St. John’s is participating in various mini-competitions including Grand Champion, Per Capita Classic, Waste Minimization, Gorilla Prize and Targeted Material, this includes paper, cardboard, bottles, cans and food service organics.

Thus far in the competition for the Per Capita Classic, St. John’s has collected .65 lbs/person compared to the .68 lbs/person in 2010. They’ve also recorded 2.73 lbs/person compared to 3.21 lbs/person last year for the Waste Minimization competition. For the Gorilla Prize they have reached 13,400 lbs, surpassing the 12,864 lbs from last year.

Both groups of Sustainability Coordinators and the members of the Earth Club are helping fulfill the university’s pledges to reduce and recycle by creating active programs to educate employees and students about waste minimization practices.

“[We have set information tables] in Monty’s and DAC during high traffic times to spread word,” said Erin Chalmers, the president of Earth Club.

 “[Students] pledge to reduce, reuse and recycle—to become a St. John’s recyclemaniac by pledging to follow the three R’s. To remind the students of this, we are doing the weekly raffle, ‘Getting Caught Green Handed,'” said Goldsmith. “At the campaigning tables we are handing out raffle tickets to the students who are making the pledge, then every Wednesday night the Earth Club [will announce] the raffle winners. The prizes are twenty $20 gift cards to the bookstore raffled off for eight weeks.”

“We hope to help maximize peer to peer communication, empowerment and information sharing,” said Chalmers. “We shared with the Earth Club members how recycling works and told them to share it. What’s good about us is that we penetrate the student body because we have a very diverse membership that can spread the information and be proactive.”

The Sustainability Coordinators have also added more recycling bins in Marillac and St. John’s Hall classrooms.

“We have moved towards single stream recycling where possible— in the lounges of the resident halls and the classrooms,” said Goldsmith. “In making use of one thousand recycling bins that we’ve won in the [recyclemania] video contest, we’ve distributed 700 of these for 2011, and next week we’re putting out another 35 containers for Staten Island classrooms.”

If students can get one message out of the recyclemania competition, it should be to “use the system.” We try to make the system easy to use to maximize recycling.” Goldsmith said.

When asked what motto St. John’s could use for Recyclemania, if possible, Chalmers suggested “‘STJ Green Storm,’ to showcase the movement of all the things with Earth Club and recycling.”

When you come across the red recycling bins be sure to use them and always keep in mind to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!”