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Ready, Set...Recycle

Ready, Set...RecycleMore than halfway through the 2006 RecycleMania competition, Tufts is one of the top contenders in the race to recycle.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.10.06] Recycling has taken center stage at Tufts this month, as the University is in a heated race against colleges nationwide to see which campus can collect the most recyclables and do the best job of reducing waste. For the second year in a row, Tufts is a key player in the 10-week RecycleMania competition that began on Jan. 29.

"Our goal is to appeal to people’s competitive spirits and encourage some half-hearted recyclers to recycle even more," Tufts University recycling coordinator Dawn Quirk told the Somerville Journal.

Nearly 100 college and university campuses are involved in RecycleMania – a contest sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency. With about a month to go, Tufts, which placed second in the “Recycle Rate” category of the competition last year, is currently in sixth place in the country for per-capita recycling and in seventh place in the “Grand Champion” standings, ahead of local recycling rival MIT. [Most recent rankings]

Other Boston schools participating in RecycleMania include Harvard University and Boston College.

"The more environmentally aware we as a campus become, the more we can become a model for other schools,” Daphne La Bau, one of Tufts’ seven recycling interns, told the Journal. “Recycling is the best way for college campuses to become more green.”

Beyond recycling, Tufts has undertaken many other initiatives in the interest of addressing climate change, according to the Tufts Climate Initiative. Energy efficient light bulbs and laundry machines are commonplace throughout campus, vending machines are equipped with energy-saving devices, some buildings feature environmentally-friendly solar panels and the University has pledged to meet or beat the goals of the Kyoto Protocol -- an international agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.

While most of these projects are ongoing, RecycleMania is a short-lived contest meant to thrust recycling into the spotlight by engaging colleges and universities in a friendly competition. To increase awareness about it at Tufts, La Bau and the rest of the recycling interns are getting their message across to students during “hall snacks” meetings at residence halls, according to the newspaper. Dorm rooms have also been equipped with recycling bins and table tents advertising the competition are spread throughout campus dining halls.

But, despite the recycling staff’s best efforts, Quirk told the Journal that Tufts recycling rate is on the decline this year.

"We have been going down in our recycling rate," she told the newspaper. "The first week our rate was 36.6 percent, possibly so high because students were returning from winter break and had boxes to get rid of. By week three, we had dropped to 30.7 percent."

No matter how Tufts fares in competition, however, Quirk hopes that the University’s participation in RecycleMania will turn more members of the Tufts community into regular recyclers.

"Recycling is a habit, and we want to help people pick up that habit," she explained to the newspaper.



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