Green Corner: Compete to win grand prize: a greener world

Recycling has evolved into a nationwide practice, one encouraged through both education and laws. However, it has also evolved into a national competition between universities. This past Sunday kicked off RecycleMania, an eight-week competition among schools all over the nation aimed at lowering campus trash generation.

Climate change is an issue that is now being recognized by many organizations, as its far-reaching impacts grow in intensity every day. From decreased biodiversity and natural disasters, to public health crises and political conflicts, climate change is a driving factor behind many of the environmental and social problems in current society. Even in the face of the enormity of this issue, today’s college students, including those here at Rider, have the ability to make a difference in mitigating further climate concerns.

Nearly all of our daily actions as humans produce emissions of greenhouse gases, and the most commonly known is carbon dioxide. Methane is another one of these gases, which receives less attention, despite having a potency higher than 20 times that of carbon. Its lifespan in the atmosphere is shorter, but its ability to retain heat and further the harmful “greenhouse effect” is far more significant, according the Environmental Protection Agency. This means that, although often overlooked, methane plays a crucial role in the overall warming climate.

One of the leading producers of methane gas from human activities is the emissions that leak from landfills into the atmosphere. According to the EPA, 18 percent of total emissions comes from landfills, versus the contributions from activities like wastewater treatment, coal mining, and composting that are each less than 10 percent of the total. Efforts to reduce landfill waste are important in limiting this predominant source of emissions. Through conscious actions such as limiting consumption, composting and recycling all possible materials, students can aim to reduce their waste and methane emissions.

With this idea in mind, Rider students are encouraged to step up their recycling game through RecycleMania. Colleges compete to increase their recycling amounts and awareness levels, while decreasing how much moves to the landfill. At Rider, RecycleMania has become a tradition, as we have been participating since 2008. In 2014, Rider placed fourth in the per capita division and second in the food and organics category.

This year, to take our participation a step further and place higher on the leaderboard, we are tracking our actions on the free app JouleBug. Students are encouraged to download the app on their phone or tablet, input their sustainable actions, and watch their trophies, points and badges stack up. Additionally, your individualized impacts can be viewed on the app, which calculates savings in pounds of carbon dioxide, gallons of water and pounds of waste. Rider students can compete in a very crucial game — who can make the biggest impact.

The Office of Sustainability will be monitoring the leaderboards, and awarding a prize to the most active participants, according to point rankings. By increasing social awareness and engagement through JouleBug and decreasing landfill use through recycling, we can work together to be a more sustainable campus.

—Lexi Reynolds

Lawrenceville Eco Rep

 

Printed in the 02/10/16 issue.

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