SJU does spring cleaning thanks to recycling contest

St. John’s students have been running out of excuses on reasons not to recycle.

For the past three weeks, St. John’s has been among more than 500 universities from across the country taking part in Recyclemania, a 10-week national recycling competition sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that judges schools on their recycling habits.

Some of the more notable schools also participating in this year’s Recyclemania include Cornell University, Florida State University, and Northwestern University.

According to Thomas Goldsmith, director of Environmental and Energy Conservation, recyclable material counted in the competition is divided into three categories: cardboards, mixed paper, and bottles and cans. Schools are judged based on the largest amount of recyclables, the highest recycling rate and the largest and smallest amounts of recyclables per capita.

The overall winner of the Recyclemania Tournament, which began on Jan. 18 and will end on Mar. 28, will be given a trophy to display on their campus for one year.

“We thought this would be a good idea to include here at St. John’s because it’s another way for us to focus on and improve the recycling culture on campus,” said Goldsmith.

For the last three weeks, Goldsmith said recyclables from eight different locations on campus are collected from Sundays through Saturdays. Once collected, the volumes of the materials are recorded, converted into pounds and then those figures are submitted to Recyclemania officials to be included in the school’s progress.

Although St. John’s national ranking within the competition has still not been announced, over the past three weeks, Goldsmith said the University has reported 15,972 lbs. of mixed paper, 13,780 lbs. of cardboard and 6,650 lbs. of bottles and cans, said Goldsmith.

Overall, the Director of Environmental and Energy Conservation said he has seen improved recycling habits among the St. John’s community.

“I think students are catching on,” he said. “Recycling has been up 400 percent in the last year.”

Many students said they were pleased St. John’s joined the national competition.

“I’ve never heard of this tournament, but I always make sure to recycle my trash,” said student Kalina Lau. “It is just a normal part of my everyday routine.”

Others said they were previously unaware that the school was participating in Recyclemania but were still willing to do their part to help.

“I didn’t know St. John’s was competing against other universities in this tournament, but it does not change the way I recycle because I have always done so,” said junior Anna Carey. “But, I think a lot more students will get involved because of this.”

Matthew Ponte, a senior, said he was familiar with the Recyclemania competition and said he was rooting for the University to have a strong showing.

“I would definitely like to see St. John’s win this year,” he said.
Goldsmith said that although the school’s chances of winning this year are slim, he has high hopes that wherever St. John’s ranks among other institutions national, it will reap the benefits.

“We realize that maybe we won’t be in the top five this year, because there are other schools who have been doing this longer, but our focus is for us to improve recycling at St. John’s as much as we can to make us a more environmentally conscious community,” he said.