During winter 2012, St. Louis Community College (STLCC) got busy with RecycleMania at all 4 campuses and 3 education centers. Each campus created their own plan to raise awareness for recycling efforts. Meramec got busy with “Waste-less Wednesdays” handing out drink coupons for “Getting Caught Green-Handed.” Cosand Center, Wildwood and Meramec did “exchanges” with clothing, books and “new to you” household and garden items. Electronic recycling was a new category to RecycleMania this year. Meramec added e-waste to their participation. Wildwood also collected electronics for Earth Month but not during the challenge. Motown music inspired the Cosand Center Green Team’s first Recycling Fashion Show where employees hooted and laughed over outfits made from paper and recyclable items.
It was an amazing Earth Month full of many celebrations, including the Second Annual Recycling Extravaganza at Forest Park campus in collaboration with St. Louis Earth Day, and a Household Hazardous Waste collection at Florissant Valley Campus .
The BIG RESULTS for the district were that even though TRASH increased by 1847.5 lbs, recycled paper also rose by 3079.5 lbs; bottles by 2758 lbs; and newly collected compost added 5111 lbs so that the district diverted 10,948.5 lbs MORE from the landfill than in 2011. This is a savings for the college because our trash contract costs 2.5 times more than our recycling contract. Recycling truly SAVES both the college pocketbook as well as the planet.
Though our challenge was informal, the STLCC campus Benchmarking winners were:
- The STLCC Gorilla Winner went to Meramec campus for collecting 41,810 lbs of recyclables (Flo Valley at 29,456; Forest Park at 28,991; and Cosand Center at 13,996 lbs). Tiny Wildwood collected 25,499 lbs. More on them in the Competition Category below.
- The STLCC Per Capita Winner went to the Cosand Center where employees collected 52.42 lbs of recycling per person!!! (Flo Valley at 5.45; Forest Park at 4.70; and Meramec at 5.25 lbs/person).
- The STLCC Waste Minimization Winner went to Meramec where their recycling + trash were 9.72 lbs/person (Cosand Center at 75.74 lbs; and Flo Valley at 13.79 lbs/person). In this category, the lower number signifies better trash management.
- The STLCC Grand Champion went to the Cosand Center at 69.39% recycling rate (Forest Park at 44.28% and Flo Valley at 39.49%).
Huge cheers for Wildwood because they decided to compete this year in a crowd of 605 nation-wide schools. Here are their rankings:
- Gorilla Prize—247th place—no surprise—Wildwood is tiny compared to the big 4 year schools;
- Per Capita—56th place—amazing—in this category their efforts connected with their campus size;
- Bottles and Cans—43rd place—even more exciting—targeted materials were a strength;
- Grand Champion—20th place—remember this category measures strong recycling and reducing trash;
- Paper—8th place—AWESOME—targeted material ranked Wildwood a giant!
Next year I hope each campus competes rather than benchmarks. If tiny Wildwood with 1,144 students and staff can, we all can. If Meramec had been competing, their electronic collection of 47,851 lbs. would have ranked them 6th in the nation!!!
Another important thing I learned by participating this year was not to do it alone. Each campus collaborated with ideas for activities. At our regional level, 18 colleges and universities of the St. Louis Regional Higher Education Sustainability Consortium (HESC) joined together to share their program ideas to raise awareness within and beyond their campuses. More than just one school’s success, HESC hopes to shift the waste management culture by being shining examples for businesses and municipalities. Together in 2011, we created a regional impact by diverting 883.15 tons from the landfill. We are still crunching our results for 2012. Talk about educating sustainably!
If I could get across one message– be more aware of consuming. The most important R stands for Reduce. Ask “do I really need this?” If you say yes, see if you can get it by borrowing, renting or buying used–the second R–Reuse. At the end of that item’s life-cycle, certainly get it into the recycling stream for repurposing. This whole process reflects the 4th R–Rethink!!
Each campus is a pebble and together our effect can reach a region. Just like Earth Day is every day, waste awareness is every day as well.