Recyclemania: ‘Caught Green-handed’

By Beth Shiller

This spring semester marks ten years since Youngstown State University has first started participating in Recyclemania.

Recyclemania — an eight-week event that starts at the beginning of February and goes until the end of March — is a tracking-based event. At the end of each week, the university’s pounds of recycled material are recorded and added to the weights of the previous weeks. The data is collected per capita and the schools are ranked based on how many pounds they record.

At the end of week seven, YSU was in 32nd place out of more than 600 participating schools. Final results will be posted on April 11.

While Recyclemania is now a popular competition with hundreds of participating schools, the event started back in 2001 as a friendly feud between rival schools Miami University and Ohio University.

“The rival schools wanted to find a way to recycle more so they took advantage of the sports rivalry and turned recycling into a competition,” said Dan Kuzma, manager of YSU’s recycling program.

After that first year, other universities were asked to partake. The response was so great that now over 600 colleges — representing 49 states and 4 Canadian provinces — participate in the competition.

YSU began participating in 2004 when only a small amount of schools were participating and would regularly finish in the top 10.

“But, with more schools comes greater competition; we are usually in the top 50,” Kuzma said.

Winning schools are awarded monetary grants — an incentive for universities to participate in Recyclemania.

While universities have a financial reason to compete, Kuzma has had to develop ways to get students excited about the competition. So, he developed the “Get Caught Green-handed” event.

If someone recycled an object, there was a random chance that they would “Get Caught Green-handed” and, without expecting it, be awarded a prize.

“It teaches the lesson to make sure you are always recycling whether someone is watching or not,” Kuzma said.

Kuzma concluded that these incentive programs not only help the environment but also help educate students on the importance of recycling.