By Ashley Festa

     Being green is not only becoming more fashionable, it’s becoming essential to preserving and repairing our environment. Consequently, all at UIW are more conscious of the decisions concerning waste and recycling. Not only is the university’s administration pushing for more environmentally friendly choices on campus, but students are also taking the initiative. This year, UIW participated in the benchmark division of RecycleMania to compare our recycling efforts with those of other schools across the nation. RecycleMania’s 10-week competition in which higher education institutions promote ways to reduce waste on their campuses ended March 27.

     To give a little perspective, consider the approximate savings of one ton of recycled paper:

• 17 trees
• 7,000 gallons of water (that’s the amount of water used by the average four-person family over a six-week period)
• 4,100-kilowatt hours of energy (that’s enough to supply the average household with all its energy needs for more than six months)
• 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space imagine a box 10 feet wide, 10 feet long and 10 feet high)
• 60 pounds of air pollutants (as opposed to making paper from virgin wood)
Sources: Edwards Aquifer Authority and 

     UIW began competing on Jan. 17, and in the last two weeks of the month, collected 1.92 tons of paper. UIW collected nearly four tons of paper in February. In March, despite spring break, more than six tons of paper were collected. In April, UIW collected four and a half tons of paper, and nearly nine tons in May. On top of the number of trees saved, consider the time, effort and expense required to grow a tree to paper-making maturity.

     This isn’t UIW’s first effort at a greener world; the university has been encouraging recycling for several years. The statistics go back to 2008 when UIW collected 37.27 tons of paper for the year. In 2009, UIW collected 41.18 tons of paper, an increase of more than 10 percent from 2008. UIW is on track this year to beat 2009’s record.

     On average for the 10 weeks of the competition, each full-time person at the university, including students and employees, collected nearly half a pound of recyclables per week.

     Thanks to all students and employees who participated in RecycleMania and helped preserve our environment for years to come.