The New Year came in with bright, cold, but sunny days. In all that brightness, I thought about ideas for this semester’s upcoming challenge–RecycleMania. Aside from being the Sustainability Coordinator for the district, I am a co-chair of the Initiative Incubator Subcommittee for our regions Higher Education Sustainability Consortium (HESC). Our goal is as bright as the first days of the year–100% participation in RecycleMania. This means 19 colleges in the region would sign on to a national event to raise awareness about waste management and recycling in particular. Washington University in St Louis has participated at the competition level for several years. At our last General Assembly of HESC, they presented their efforts and accomplishments. It was quite impressive. They opted to focus on employees rather than student groups figuring they would have more buy-in from folks who work there. So far, the HESC has encouraged 14 schools to join in. We have 2 weeks before we begin the 10 week challenge of minimizing our waste. I personally want to see student participation because after all, they are our future.
All 4 campuses in the STLCC district are taking the challenge. We are entering at the Benchmark division. This allows us to raise awareness and get our feet wet (watching for ice!) in this endeavor. Florissant Valley and Meramec have committed to this challenge as part of their Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Wildwood and Forest Park wanted to join in as well. Getting in the spirit, the national website: www.recyclemania.org, has amazing activities to raise awareness and have fun challenging each other to reduce waste. For the region, we are hoping to minimally get members to do a waste audit (baseline) and then one other ending measure. The Missouri Botanical Garden’s EarthWays Center will provide a waste audit without charge. Imagine the region knowing just where it stands in the heap of waste!? I believe that it is from knowledge that action can spring. Our next general assembly will be held on February 2nd from 2-4 pm at our William J. Harrison Center. We will brainstorm how to take on this challenge. Knowing that we are all in this together (the campuses and the colleges) will make the journey into this craziness much more fun. Let’s get zany!