SF State News {University Communications}

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Promoting sustainability with Recyclemania

February 19, 2009 -- SF State's campus-wide commitment to recycling and sustainability has landed the University among the national leaders in the Recyclemania competition, a nationwide contest designed to promote waste reduction activities on campuses across the country.

Photo of the winning Recyclemania poster that shows a hand holding a miniature Earth.

The winning Recyclemania poster designed by graduate student Zhen Tan.

The competition began Jan. 18 and runs through March 28. SF State is competing in the Grand Champion category, which measures recycling diversion rate. At the midway point in the competition, the University sits in 12th place. Results and rankings are updated weekly.  

"Recycling has been around for so many decades that everyone understands the concept, and it's a good entrée into larger sustainability issues," said Sustainability Coordinator Caitlin Steele. "It's also a springboard to more energy-efficient projects and a way to discuss what we're using on campus and how we can cut back."

SF State has long been a leader in campus sustainability and recycling. A year ago, the University finished third in the Gorilla Prize category, which measures the weight of recyclable material collected per person on campus. While an honor, Steele said the down side is that the University is creating a lot of recyclable material.

The Recycling Center is working with the Cesar Chavez Student Center, University Housing and other groups to get the message out about what can be recycled. To raise awareness about sustainability issues on campus, the Recycling Center sponsored a poster contest in January. Zhen Tan, a graduate student in industrial design won first place and art major Rebecca Eichten placed second. Their posters are on display across campus.

"We're trying to get people on campus to think about what they're throwing away," said graduate student Catrin Gruetzmann, who works in the Recycling Center and organized the poster contest. "Everybody is aware that waste is a problem, but people don't think about it all the time."

While diverting recyclable material is the goal of the competition, Steele said the University is beginning to shift its focus to zero waste, meaning all waste is put into a different bin than the trash. SF State has promoted zero waste events such as bike to school days, and hopes to expand its zero waste efforts as more materials are able to be recycled.

"We're trying to clear up confusion about what the rules are for recycling, and they're always changing," Steele said. "We're starting to make serious inroads in zero waste, and we're definitely on target."

For more information about sustainability at SF State, visit http://sustainability.sfsu.edu

-- Michael Bruntz


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