Recyclemania started in 2001 as a spring contest in hopes that the incentive to be the best in the nation will drive up recycling rates.

“We are working hard to make recycling convenient on campus. Our single-stream recycling program gives us an edge over our competitors, and we hope to place higher than all other schools in Kentucky, specifically the University of Kentucky, said Crystal Favors, a resident life coordinator who heads Recyclemania for the university.

Participating schools compete in such divisions as highest per capita recycling rate, highest gross weight of recyclable goods, and least amount of trash per capita. In the 10 years since the program began, Recyclemania competitors have tracked more than 150 million pounds of recyclables, and it is that success that Favors hopes to bring to UofL.

What amazes me is how framing recycling in the context of a competition changes students attitude towards recycling. The students on my floor had absolutely no interest recycling last semester, but suddenly you tell them we have to beat UK and they are all on board.

The Residence Hall Green Committee, in conjunction with Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives, also is host to a litany of on-campus events to promote Recyclemania and sustainable living. They include a field trip to a local recycling plant and a costume competition in which costumes must be made out of recyclable goods.

To further engage students, the Residence Hall Green Committee is giving students across campus free, reusable coffee mugs.

With more than three coffee shops across campus, and coffee being the drink of choice for many students, the opportunity to cut down on the waste of paper cups looks like a great way to painlessly promote going green.

Recyclemania is a great example of Louisvillians being engaged in promoting sustainability in a new and creative way. As of now UofL ranks first in the state. Hopefully the university’s ability to recycle is indicative of its ability to play basketball this month.