The UA wants all students to become RecycleManiacs! For the next two weeks, the UA Committee on Sustainability will be promoting a competition between dorms to see which can recycle the most. The competition will run March 12–23, and progress will be measured from information provided by Facilities on how material is recycled in the dorms.
Last year, Burton-Conner won the competition and was awarded a $500 prize in the form of reusable shopping bags for each of its residents. This year, the prize will be similarly “sustainability-related,” said Jen Liu ’14, co-chair of the UA Committee on Sustainability, though the exact prize has yet to be determined. “Since it doesn’t involve that much extra work, there’s no reason not to earn extra money for your dorm,” noted fellow co-chair Anvisha Pai ’14.
Some students seemed ready for the competition. “Our president told us all to recycle, so we could win again,” said Miren Bamforth ’15, a Burton-Conner resident.
Other students, however, seemed more critical of the program. “Conceptually it’s good, but there’s no incentive if you’re not attached to your dorm,” said Maseeh resident Thomas A. Villalon ’14.
Romi S. Kadri ’14, also a Maseeh resident, didn’t foresee students going out of their way to recycle. “With MIT students leading such busy lifestyles, recycling is inevitably a lower priority,” said Kadri, suggesting that “individual rewards or a credit for recycling” would give more incentive. Though the current Greenbean machine in the Student Center pays money for certain recyclables, its data is currently not used for the competition. Pai attributes this to the difficulty of dealing with students’ personal Greenbean accounts and the fact that the machine is mostly used by fraternities and sororities while the competition is between dorms.
Villalon also said that most students’ recycling habits are probably related to whether they recycled before coming to MIT, “If you give it a personal connection, then that’s another incentive — peer pressure.”
MIT’s version of RecycleMania is part of a larger, 10-week intercollegiate competition sponsored by the nonprofit RecycleMania Inc. “MIT has always participated in RecycleMania, but has never placed highly,” said Pai. Pai added that the UA is focusing on the inter-dorm competition as opposed to the intercollegiate competition — in which MIT placed 68th last year out of 288 schools — though campuswide recycling rates will still count toward the competition. Pai also said that one of the goals of the competition is to maintain high recycling rates during and after RecycleMania.
Participation in the recycling competition involves simply placing recyclable materials in the recycling containers provided at each dorm. The UA will be posting updates on dorm rankings and recycling rates on the MIT RecycleMania website (http://web.mit.edu/recyclemania) so participants can track their dorm’s progress.