Plastic, it's everywhere. One can’t look over their shoulder without seeing plastic. Plastic headphones, plastic sunglasses, plastic keyboards and computer monitors; we live in an age of plastic. I am sure you have all heard the words carbon footprint, well researchers and scientists have unleashed a new term for us all, “Plastic Footprint”. Every year 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally, with only 10% of it finding its way to recycle centers. 7 million pounds of plastic end up in our Oceans and waterways, of that only 5% is recovered. In the US alone, enough plastic is tossed in the landfill to circle the globe 4 times; with degradation times of 500 to 1000 years, it is safe to say we still live amongst the first few pieces of plastic ever created. Across the globe countries are funding research and implementing systems to reduce energy consumption and save on electricity, but fail to recognize other avenues that go with the territory of being sustainable. Which brings me to my February “sustainable tip” of the month, recycle. Or better yet, RecycleMania!
RecycleMania is a friendly, yet competitive benchmarking tool Colleges and Universities use to track their waste reduction programs and promote better community activity. Every Spring 400 plus schools in the US and Canada compete for 8 weeks during the months of February and March to achieve the lowest possible waste generation or collect the most amount of recyclable and compostable products used on campus. For their strong efforts, the top schools will be recognized nationally, and be the host to a trophy in the category in which they succeeded, as well as gain the honor of bragging rights for the year. Even though Stanford typically scores well in this event, we have been trophyless for sometime. So the Office of Sustainability is calling to arms everyone to waste less, and recycle and compost more.
In the grand scheme of things, trophy or no trophy, it is important to recognize programs like RecycleMania in their ability to bring together millions of students and staff in multiple countries with the purpose to achieve a single goal, “sustainability”. So as I don my Uncle Sam costume and hop on my soapbox, “I want you,” to be mindful of how you discard your waste, take the time and think which bin should be used, but most importantly, help Stanford reach its 75% waste diversion goal. Oh yeah, and BEAT CAL! So for the next 8 weeks, let’s do our best to come together as a team and encourage one another to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I thank you, Stanford thanks you, and your fellow cohorts thank you!