Campus News

RecycleMania Storms Campus

Story posted February 09, 2006

Dan the Can wants recycle!

Dan makes his/her debut this month, as Bowdoin College steps up to the challenge of RecycleMania, a nationwide recycling competition.

At stake: the highly coveted RecycleMania Trophy (constructed by an Ohio artist from -- what else? -- recyclables!) -- not to mention a cleaner, greener campus and a higher level of awareness of recycling at Bowdoin.

Running January 29 through April 8, 2006, RecycleMania challenges college campuses across the country to collect the largest amount of recycling per campus occupant during a 10-week period. Bowdoin is competing with 90 other colleges and universities, including seven NESCAC schools: Hamilton College, Amherst College, Connecticut College, Tufts University, Wesleyan University, Middlebury College and Colby College (the most participants of any athletic conference in the nation).

The scope of the competition at Bowdoin includes all campus buildings and offices, and a total of 2,443 occupants (full-time students, faculty, and staff combined).

Dan the Can, who looks suspiciously like Colin Beckman '07, puts some muscle behind campus recycling.

On a weekly basis, members of Sustainable Bowdoin and Facilities Management staff will collect and measure all the regular campus recyclables (mixed office paper, newspaper, catalogs/magazines, hard- and soft-bound books, phone books, aluminum and steel cans, glass, #1 and #2 plastics, and corrugated cardboard), in addition to organics (food scraps and yard debris). Volunteers will total the amounts of these collected materials, divide it by the number of campus occupants, and report the pounds-per-person result to the RecycleMania committee at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sustainable Bowdoin will keep the campus apprised of weekly progress and Bowdoin's standing in relation to the other schools (as well as in the NESCAC group). For updates, check out the tracking board in David Saul Smith Union, or visit the RecycleMania Web site.

The ultimate goal of the competition is to improve Bowdoin's recycling rate, according to Katherine Creswell, Sustainable Bowdoin intern.

"It's crucial to be mindful of everything that is thrown away," Creswell points out. "Careful sorting of all materials into the labeled bins in all the trash/recycling rooms and each academic and administrative building on campus only takes a minute, but makes a long-lasting difference in reducing Bowdoin's ecological footprint -- the amount of resources the campus uses up."

A few small steps can add up to big results.

"Campus occupants can pay close attention to the plastic bottles in particular that they get rid of," she notes. "Most juice, soda, water, and laundry soap bottles are #1 or #2 plastic, and can be recycled by the town of Brunswick. Look for the triangle-arrow symbol around a 1 or 2 on the bottom of every plastic container."

A little early spring-cleaning can also help reduce the amount of material that might otherwise be sent to the landfill.

"Clearing out rooms or offices of old magazines, catalogs, papers and books that have been accumulating will help boost Bowdoin's recycling numbers," Creswell says. "Donating any Bowdoin-generated recyclable item will help increase the weights that are reported weekly, and divert those items from their unnecessary fate -- the trash."

And it gets even easier: Bowdoin's RecycleMania mascot, Dan the Can, will be making the rounds on campus and at home games and events.

A number of campus activities related to recycling will be held during the 10-week period. A recycling shoot-out competition, in which everyone is challenged to toss a recycling item into the right container from a free-throw line, is planned for the dining halls in February. In early March, Sustainable Bowdoin will hold a campus-wide recycle bin-decorating contest. The winner will receive a large batch of organic cookies. In late March, volunteers and EcoReps will conduct a dorm storm; the occupants of each room will be encouraged to clear their space of any idling recyclables. A make-your-own-recycled-Valentine station will be set up in the David Saul Smith Union on and around February 14.

For more information, to participate in RecycleMania, or to book Dan the Can for an event, contact Katherine Creswell at ext. 3330 or

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