BROCKPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Friendly competition is often one of the best motivators to get anyone involved, especially on a college campus, and that’s just one of the ways Lawrence Brien and others are drumming up support for this year’s Race to Zero waste campaign at SUNY Brockport.
“Students have a great reaction,” said Brien. “A friendly challenge between buildings here and different dormitories here and then also we’re ranked on the national as we submit our data.”
So far they’ve been in the middle of the pack, ranked 42nd out of 79 as of week 3 of the competition, with over 18,000 pounds of recycled materials. The same as taking 7 cars off the road for a year. Other local schools participating such as the University of Rochester, have also put up big numbers, with over 96,000 pounds recycled as of their most recent report placing them 23rd in the rankings.
“You really want kids to learn what’s the right to recycle how we’re going to recycle, [sic] how what it means to recycle, and what it does for the sustainability of the planet,” said Brien.
One way the college pushed to educate its students and motivate them to recycle was through a waste audit.
“We did a waste audit which we started off with like we brought out a bunch of trash from two of our dormitory buildings right out into our campus mall [and] see how much recycling was thrown out by mistake,” said Brien.
During the first audit, over 50% of the waste they collected was actually recyclable. A second audit is planned for April when the competition is over, and Brien hopes for better results from that one. Part of SUNY Brockport’s long-term plans on campus includes making it easier to separate and identify what can and can’t be recycled.
“Doing new waste containers which actually are four streams so it actually will have landfill there’s [sic] normal recycling bottles plastics cans that kind of thing composting and then paper,” said Brien.
Other future plans include a new sustainability park, which is in the design phase now, where students can compost their own waste and potentially help to run campus gardens as well. Once a site is selected the plans are set to be finalized and construction to begin.