RecycleMania challenges campus

As of Monday, Case has been hit with RecycleMania. No, I am not referring to one of the sci-fi movies that Film Society sponsored this past weekend. I am calling attention to the 10-week recycle/reduce competition among universities in which students stimulate their campus communities to recycle more and reduce their waste. Admittedly, mania sounds intriguing, but is an intense 10-week recycling binge the answer to alternative energy debates? Will it subdue climate change effects?

I doubt the leaders of this competition believe recycling will answer all of our energy problems, but I do believe building awareness and promoting lifestyle changes are things that they have in mind. The competition focuses on students adjusting their wasteful habits to more sustainable tactics, such as recognizing recyclable items and reducing their overall consumption. In order to stay competitive in this event, students will be forced to be innovative and think of unique ways to motivate the entire Case community to change its wasteful ways.

The recycling and reducing tips that RecycleMania leader and Case sustainability coordinator Linda Robson suggests are ones to which most of us on the Case campus have already been heavily exposed: replace paper documents with online alternatives, use efficient printer settings, and reuse water bottles. Case students and faculty alike are certainly bright and aware of sustainable lifestyles. Will preaching what we already know have a different effect this time around? Maybe. Rehab programs claim that it takes about 10 attempts before an addict is able to fully drop the habit, so we have no reason to give up on getting rid of our own environmentally degenerative habits just yet.

Robson is effective in providing students and faculty with simple and beneficial tips, such as removing your name from junk snail-mail lists and adopting what she calls "pre-cycling" practices. Essentially, "pre-cycling" is taking a minute to decide if the product you are considering for purchase is disposable or if its packaging contains hazardous materials (always a bad idea to get involved with).

Bottom line: environmentally friendly habits are beneficial in the longterm; less waste produced means less waste in landfills that emit methane, a greenhouse gas. Additionally, the event could help students recycle routinely and reduce consumption. The adoption of these practices could be extremely valuable to our own campus and the Cleveland area. The Case campus could experience a savings in cost as the community reduces its carbon footprint.

When President Barbara Snyder signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a certain expectation of improved sustainability practices and decreased reliance on fossil fuels was created. Case's environmental plans cannot rely upon the Village's LEED Silver rating forever. The campus' participation in RecycleMania will not hurt us on our road to becoming a more environmentally conscious university.

Fellow campus community members, I leave you with one request: do your part to win us the grand prize and recycle this newspaper.

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