By Monica Chapman
In the wake of Wednesday's 4-point men's basketball victory over Miami University, the Bobcat community is preparing to stoke the fire yet again. On Sunday, the "Battle of the Bricks" will recommence as Ohio and Miami universities shoot for top honors in RecycleMania.
About 500 universities nationwide will compete in the 10-week intercollegiate recycling competition, but as RecycleMania originators, the two schools share a unique rivalry. The universities were the only two to compete at the inaugural RecycleMania in 2001. That year, Miami beat Ohio University soundly, recycling 41.2 pounds per person, compared to Ohio's 32.6 pounds per person.
In the event's eight-year history, Ohio University has out-recycled Miami University only once (2002). Since 2006, the rivals have competed in different capacities, making it difficult to compare results, according to RecycleMania co-founder Ed Newman.
"In the past, we quit competing with them because you're not comparing apples and apples," said Newman, Ohio University's recycling and refuse manager. "This year is different because they're including their entire campus like we have been doing."
Originally, the RecycleMania competition only accounted for recyclables collected from residence halls and dining halls. In 2006, Ohio University extended the competition to include faculty and staff, while Miami University continued to carry out the competition among students. The respective divisions -- a whole campus division and a partial campus division -- were formalized in 2008.
According to Newman, Miami's whole-campus approach levels the playing field between the two rival institutions, but a RecycleMania champion's trophy won't come easily.
"This isn't a spectator sport," he said. "Everybody at Ohio University -- students, faculty, staff and administrators -- are all part of the team, and we're going to need everyone's help to win this thing."
In addition to beating Miami, Newman said he also is aiming to increase participation among Ohio's colleges. To date, 18 Ohio schools are enrolled in the competition, topping last year's 14-school roster. New Ohio schools include Case Western Reserve, Cleveland Institute of Art, Kent State University's Stark campus, Marietta College, Otterbein and John Carroll University.
Newman is hoping to top the 20-school mark by encouraging participation among Ohio University's regional campuses. So far, only Lancaster has registered, although Newman said Ohio University's Southern campus also has expressed its intent to participate. This past December, Southern launched a campus recycling program, as the other four regional campuses had earlier.
So what does it take to be RecycleMania champion? According to Newman, half of the challenge is keeping momentum up through 10 weeks of competition.
This year, Ohio University's Department of Grounds, Recycling and Refuse has turned to dumpster diving, using recyclables to transform a university van into a traveling advertisement for RecycleMania.
For the second year, the Office of Sustainability will join with student organizations to promote RecycleMania through a trash dance and fashion show. This year's event will be at Casa Nueva on Feb. 19. Attendees are encouraged to craft costumes out of recyclable materials, and awards will be presented for best costumes.
"We're trying to develop a mindset of reuse," said Leah Crowe, a student projects assistant with the Office of Sustainability. "Recycling is the easiest thing you can do. But you can also prevent that waste from being created in the first place. The trash dance is a fun way to celebrate RecycleMania."
This year, Ohio University will be competing in five of the eight RecycleMania categories. Newman said the addition of the composter will enable the university to compete in a sixth category -- food service organics -- next year.
As for what Ohio University needs to do to win this year's competition, Newman had this to say: "Seventy percent of our trash is still recyclable. If we can reduce that number by half -- to 35 percent -- we'd be the top school in Ohio and may very well be the top school in the nation. That's our goal."