Indifference, Ignorance Hinder Recyclemania Success

A USF student contributes–if inadvertently–to the University of San Francisco’s effort to recycle more than other colleges participating in the Recyclemania competion. Photo Illustration by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn

It’s that time of year again. Until the March 27 deadline, USF will rake thousands of pounds in recyclables, particularly food service organics, before the conclusion of the national Recyclemania competition. Despite the number of students involved, both voluntarily and by default, attitude about the competition is inconsistent around campus. Though USF amassed over 140,000 lbs in recyclables last year, according to the Recyclemania website, many students believe that recycling is merely a baby step up a massive staircase.

For people like Andrea Parnell, an environmental studies student living in the Loyola Village dorms, the recently concluded E=MC2 competition gave students more impetus to live greener lifestyles. “The recyclemania competition is great and I am partaking in it, but I think schools should make individual efforts like E=MC2 to be more green,” she said.

Another group of students contributing to the Recyclemania discord at USF are the unaware.

“Recyclemania? What is that?” undeclared freshman Karen Foo asked as she tossed her empty Sobe bottle in the recycling bin at Market Café. “There isn’t enough advertising about it, none of my friends have ever mentioned it, nor have any of my professors,” she said.

In the 2010 competition, USF currently holds fifth place in the category of largest amount of recycled food service organics per person, but is not top ranked in any other category. Photo Illustration by Cass Krughoff/Foghorn

She wasn’t the only one who had a similar argument for being oblivious to the competition. A group of students in Market Café also blamed their lack of knowledge on inadequate advertising despite the Recyclemania placard that sat dead-smack in the center of their table. “No one reads these things,” said Jake Salamy, a junior at USF. “Had I known we were competing with other schools, I would have recycled all those Red Bull cans I’ve been tossing in the garbage can for the last three years.”

This is the very thing that upsets students like Jana Hendricks, an African American Studies major at USF, furthering the discrepancy of views on the competition.  “It’s unfortunate that competition between universities is the driving force propelling ‘recyclemaniacs’ to take a step towards saving the earth,” she said.  In spite of that, Hendricks admitted that it’s still a sign of progress that participating schools across the country are gathering their recyclables for the 10-week-long journey to win.  “But what happens when the ten weeks are over?” she asked. Do students merely relapse to their old, insensitive ways of dumping compostable and recyclable items?

In the opinion of Gary Flint, a sophomore environmental studies major at USF, the answer is “not really.” While some students don’t decipher between the big blue recycle bins and other waste bins, he said, “Many students here are conscious of the differences between the two and their impact on the environment year-round.”

While there is a massive number of Dons who haven’t a clue that USF is involved in a national recycling competition, many students who support the movement claim that it is a giant leap for universities and will drastically better the earth. Other students beg to differ.

“The environmental issues that the world faces right now are so far beyond recycling,” said Michael Stitinovich, a senior accounting student. “We’re talking billions of tons of carbon emissions yearly. There are so many students here that drive gas-guzzling cars and smoke packs of cigarettes daily. All I’m saying is, we can do more than recycle soda cans.”


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