By KATIE BERRY
Published: April 20, 2011
or the first year, Fordham University took part in RecycleMania, a nationwide contest aimed at promoting waste reduction on college and university campuses, and placed first in the category of lowest amount of trash per person.
Fordham was one of 630 schools registered for the 2011 competition and one of 239 schools in the Benchmark Division.
According to the RecycleMania website, schools are automatically placed in either the “competition” or “benchmark” division, based on the data provided each week.
Fordham’s placement in the “benchmark” division allowed the university to only collect from specific residence halls. McMahon Hall was selected to represent Fordham College Lincoln Center (FCLC). April 2 marked the official conclusion of the contest. The data has been tabulated and here are the results.
Over a 10-week period, custodial staff members collected garbage and recyclables, recorded their findings and submitted their data to RecylceMania. The information was then monitored by Great Forest, a sustainability company that works in conjunction with Fordham’s sustainability team and sent back to residence halls for students to track their process.
For five consecutive weeks, from Feb. 6 to March 12, McMahon held the lead for the lowest amount of trash per person. McMahon lost the lead during week eight, Fordham’s spring break, but regained first place in the last week.
Excluding the first two weeks that served as trials, McMahon Hall produced a total of 62512.5 lbs of trash. These numbers are comparable with Rose Hill campuses.
O’Hare Hall produced 78037.5 lbs, Walsh Hall produced 61200 lbs and Martyr’s Court produced 69525 lbs of trash. McMahon Hall beat out the other residence halls because the number of residents in each hall then divided these totals. McMahon has a total of 881 students as compared to O’Hare Hall, Walsh Hall and Martyr’s Court that only have 550, 416 and 444 students respectively.
Leslie Timoney, facilities manager, was pleased by these results. “My surprise was how little garbage we have compared to other dorms and residence halls,” Timoney said.
Francis Pastorelle, FCLC ’11, served as the liaison between Great Forest and FCLC. Like Timoney, he was pleased by these results but said that McMahon’s biggest issue is contamination.
“While our trash levels were consistently low, our contamination rates didn’t improve,” Pastorelle said. “It doesn’t matter if you mix glass, metal and plastic, as long as it all goes into the recycle bin in the trash room. The trouble comes when people toss these items into the garbage, it becomes contaminated.”
Timoney said that she would like to see residents more motivated to recycle in their apartments and follow through to ensure it is disposed in the corresponding containers in the trash room. This would improve FCLC’s contamination rate. “The trash room is on the floor, it doesn’t get much easier than that,” Timoney said.
Moving forward, Pastorelle said he would like to see all rooms on every floor participate and each floor have a designated collection room where students could take their unsorted recyclables.
“Students forget that New York is a deposit state. A dedicated student could make his/her room a collection room, sort the recyclables, take them to a Pathmark and make a profit,” Pastorelle said.
Dennis Velez, director of Residential Life, felt that overall the competition was positive. “Looking back, perhaps we could have incorporated more events to further educate the students, but we still had a very successful inaugural participation on campus,” Velez said.
Velez also said is confident that RecycleMania will be carried over to next year. “I think it is an important issue, and we still need to raise awareness about it,” Velez said. “I can honestly say that I became more educated about what we can do as a campus, and I believe that many students also learned to become more conscious of our greening efforts here at Lincoln Center.”
Pastorelle said he hopes that FCLC continues to participate in RecycleMania. “There is a really dedicated environmental pulse on this campus and there is continuing work to be done,” he said.