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Weigh in on recycling

Nick Dalla, a machine operator for the CSU Integrated Solid Waste Department, picks up a recycling bin at the Facilities North building on campus. The Integrated Solid Waste Department picks up recycling from approximately 60 locations around CSU's campus and Fort Collins five days a week.
Nick Dalla, a machine operator for the CSU Integrated Solid Waste Department, picks up a recycling bin at the Facilities North building on campus. The Integrated Solid Waste Department picks up recycling from approximately 60 locations around CSU’s campus and Fort Collins five days a week. Photo by Natasha Leadem.

For the 14th year, CSU is participating in Recyclemania along with 491 other schools.

The national competition kicked off at the beginning of February and will continue until March 29.

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For eight weeks, schools across the U.S. and Canada will weigh and report their recyclable materials and waste. They will be judged and awarded based on four different categories: largest recyclables total, most amount of recyclables per student, least amount of trash per student and highest rate of materials recycled.

For Sheela Backen, the program coordinator for Recyclemania at CSU, she not only encourages students to recycle, but leads by example.

“I’ve got a 35 gallon trash bin that is only a quarter full when they pick it up once a week, and my recycle bin is a 95 gallon and it is always full,” Backen said. “It’s the right thing to do. If we recycle we can extend our natural resources.”

Backen is in charge of recording and submitting the pounds of recyclables, and pounds of waste at CSU to Recyclemania each week.

According to Backen, the University is down from its typical rate of 50 percent. In the first week CSU recycled 45.76 percent of its total waste. Backen, however, said she has high hopes for the competition this year.

“We’ve always finished in the top 10 percent,” Backen said. “I really hope we finish closer to the top this year.”

Tim Broderick, Housing and Dining Services the sustainability coordinator, said he believes that CSU is a worthy contender.

“We do a really good job,” Broderick said. “Last year, we ranked first in Colorado and we always rank towards the top.”

Housing and Dining Services will be hosting its own competition within the residence halls during the eight weeks to encourage on-campus participation. On March 5, Housing and Dining will host a recycle audit in the plaza and determine the winner of the residence hall competition.

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Broderick has been involved with recyclemania for a little more than five years, two of which he has been at CSU.

“I get excited about it,” Broderick said. “I mean I see it as a way that every person on campus can become engaged in sustainability.”

Jacob Kimiecik, director at the student sustainability center, believes that recycling is only a small part of living sustainably, although it is one of the most popular methods.

“It’s really just a mindset about how you live your life,” Kimiecik said. “It’s the little things that add up over time that are going to make a difference in the long run.”

Although Recyclemania will end on March 29, the competition is meant to encourage students on college campuses to incorporate recycling into their daily lives.

“I think it’s one of those little tasks that we do on a daily basis that can have a tangible result,” Tim Broderick said. “When you choose which unit you’re going to throw your plastic bottle into, that scaled up among however many students are attending a university, that can have a big big impact.”

Last year 523 schools competed with approximately 3.5 million students and staff participating. At the end of the eight weeks, the combined weight of recyclables and composting produced by Recyclemania equalled 90.8 million pounds.

Collegian Reporter Natasha Leadem can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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