Dorms set new record in yearly recycling contest

Leading up to Earth Week, campus pushes for sustainability


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Towers Hall tied for first place in the Recycling Contest, held in the residence halls earlier in March.

Story by Glen Olson, Chief Copy Editor

Just before the spring break, the UW-Eau Claire dorms finished up their annual recycling contest with record involvement and recycled materials.

The competition was in coordination with a national event called Recyclemania, which is college campus contest that runs 8-weeks leading up to Earth Week.

Kate Hartsel, Housing Sustainability Coordinator, said that the housing and residence life’s contest, dubbed “Get Caught Green Handed” went up to spring break because even though the campus is involved in the nationwide event also, it is hard to get students back into the contest after a week away from the dorms.

All in all, the dorms recycled 22,932 pounds of material, up from last year’s record of 22,033 pounds.

Towers Hall and Governors Hall both tied for the highest amount, winning free laundry for the week leading up to spring break.

Bridgman Hall was second and got a custom recycling container, similar to the ones made of recycled plastics seen in other campus buildings.

Hartsel said that this was the first time they had a tie, but in the past they saw that the week of free laundry was a good prize and the contest itself motivated students to be more aware of their recycling habits.

“What I find that I like the best, is that it reminds students who are already recycling to continue doing it,” Hartsel said. “And a lot of times it gets students who haven’t really been involved in doing it to start.”

Hartsel said like any habit, it takes weeks of repetition to establish the routine of caring about their waste.

Besides the recycled material dorms could also earn points by submitting photos of groups recycling, liking the Housing Sustainability Office’s Facebook and participating in educational SEED programs, or Students Encouraging Environmental Deeds, which are educational group activities.

Hartsel said they had 39 SEED program requests, over 400 submitted photos and over 40 posters created, in addition to the over 10 tons of recycled materials.

Groups could also receive points for signing a team up for the Sustainability Fashion Show, which will be April 15 in Davies to kick off Earth Week.

Katelyn McGowan, freshman Towers Hall resident, said that her floor had done pictures for the contest and that she thought the event had a lot of merit, for both the message and the prizes.

“It was good to bring attention to recycling,” McGowan said. “And the prizes were a good motivation behind it.”

Hartsel said that the program was mostly coordinated through the Eco-Reps, which most of the dorms have on their hall council to promote sustainability, led by the Housing Sustainability Office intern Liz Wieczorek.

In all, Hartsel said that while the goal of the contest is to encourage recycling, it also helps get students thinking about the wider environmental impacts of their actions.

“We wanted to get them thinking bigger than that,” Hartsel said. “It’s a way too to draw attention to the other things they can do to live more sustainably, and it was a fun way to do that.”