Get your recyclemania on, Ram Nation

Imagine someone, somewhere, examining your trash. He or she is probably taking stock of the amount of paper, scribbling down the number of cans and maybe even weighing the amount of food waste.

It’s not just a figment of your imagination. This is RecycleMania.

It is a nationwide competition that encourages waste reduction and recycling, and it is already under way.

As of Feb. 3, CSU has been recording the amount of recycling and trash being dropped into bins — and we are not the only university watching our trash.

Eco-Leader Nakayla Lestina assists in tracking and recording the recycling of her fellow residents. Her job is to promote recycling and waste management.

“We get (students) into the habit of recycling for off-campus living and the future,” Lestina said.

According to the RecycleMania website, 650 colleges and universities participate in this competition, which has been taking place since 2001. Its popularity has grown vastly since then, with state and private schools joining in to make the earth greener.

RecycleMania allows students to quantify how much waste they produce.

According to Tonie Miyamoto, director of communication for CSU Housing and Dining Services, 1000 pounds of dining hall food waste are composted every day.

“It’s tangible to students and they feel like they are able to make a difference,” Miyamoto said.

Current rankings place CSU at No.18 overall, with several weeks to go. According to the CSU RecycleMania website, CSU has placed in the top 5 percent each year for the 10 years it has participated.

Ranks are determined on a per capita level, meaning it is a schoolwide effort. Recycling and overall waste amounts are tallied weekly and reported in pounds.

Another Eco-Leader, Alex Romero, works in the engineering dorms. She takes pride in the fact that CSU is ranked so highly nationwide.

Romero’s main goal is to teach students how to be more sustainable.

“The first thing is that most people don’t know how to recycle,” Romero said.

Romero places emphasis on student participation in this event, which makes a difference both locally and nationally.

“All that junk we waste is actually being put to good use,” Romero said.

Besides the national competition, which is coordinated by CSU’s Housing and Dining Services, a smaller competition among residence halls takes place. The smaller contest is hosted with the help of the Live Green Team.

Winners of the smaller contest within the residence halls win the RecycleMania trophy and are honored at the Student Sustainability Fair and Earth Day Celebration on April 22.

The City of Fort Collins has its own pilot program to add to the sustainability fever. As a first step, the program expanded on-campus composting to all dining halls.

With the new program, 1000 pounds of additional waste will be diverted for another purpose. This food waste is pulped — crushed and dried out — and then sent to anaerobic digesters. The methane gas produced is then burned to create clean new energy, which will be used as a fuel resource.

Housing and Dining Services will also offer a Waste Audit opportunity for students on March 6. Volunteers will go through a day’s worth of participants’ trash, showing students how much waste they generate in just one day.

The RecycleMania competitions, both national and local, will continue through March 30.

Collegian Writer Mariah Wenzel can be reached at news@collegian.com.