15th annual Campus Race to Zero Waste begins

For more than 15 years, the University has participating in the annual nationwide competition known as Campus Race to Zero Waste. Taking place from January 28 through March 23, hundreds of colleges and universities across the country will be reporting their waste data and doing their best to get those numbers down. Here at the University, Facilities Team Green will be hosting several events throughout February and March to encourage students to be more sustainable and keep waste reduction on their minds.

Formerly known as RecycleMania, the competition changed its name to Campus Race to Zero Waste in 2020. “While recycling diverts waste from going to landfills, the name change puts the focus on where it should be, with source reduction and elimination first,” Amy Kadrie, sustainability manager at University Facilities and Services, shared.


How the competition works

Throughout the eight weeks of the competition, weights of the University’s recycling waste, organics waste, and trash will be reported and compared to other colleges and universities. There are four main categories that schools can win awards in: diversion, per capita recycling, food organics, and zero waste. To help even out the competition, schools are divided by size.

person with reusable water bottle at filling stationLast year, out of those categories the University ranked among the best in the Per Capita division, placing 24 out of 107 schools, collecting 15 pounds per person.

Phil Piedmont, the new waste minimization specialist in University Facilities and Services, will be in charge of reporting our waste data for the first time this year, working with Waste Management to collect estimates and actual tonnages. “It will be interesting to see if the student events which promote sustainability have a campus wide impact on waste and recycling tonnages,” Piedmont noted.


On-campus event details

Facilities Team Green is hosting three main events to accompany the Campus Race to Zero Waste campaign and encourage students to practice sustainability and waste reduction in their daily lives.

The first event is the kick-off to the campaign on Thursday, February 1, from 4:30 – 7:30 p.m. in Hirst Lounge of Wilson Commons. This event is in partnership with Grassroots, the undergraduate environmental action organization, who will be hosting their monthly clothing exchange. Sustainability through Engineering, Dining Team Green, Food Recovery Network, Society for Earth and Environmental Science Students, EcoReps, Greenspace, and Students for a Democratic Society will all be tabling as well. Stop by to learn more about these groups and their missions as well as contribute to our expression wall poster that will be hung outside the Starbucks hallway.

woman signing sustainability expression wallA few weeks later is a “Love the Earth” photo booth held in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, on Thursday, February 15, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., also in Hirst Lounge. Come use fun props to express why you love the Earth and get a mini-Polaroid  to keep as memorabilia along with other giveaways items

One new event this year is a recycled origami study break on Thursday, March 7, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. in iZone. This event was created by Sustainability Programs Coordinator, Alyssa Horng, who said she was inspired by her own love for arts and crafts as well as the success of the reusable mug decorating event held with Dining Team Green this past December.

Check The Green Dandelion for full list of events, updates and a downloadable version of the event poster. Be sure to also follow us on Instagram @ursustainable for any updates about these events and to participate in our Instagram giveaway at the end of March in partnership with Wilson Commons Student Activities.

There are several other sustainability related events happening throughout Campus Race to Zero Waste. These include:

  • Dining Team Green’s Winter Picnic on Saturday, February 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Welles-Brown room in Rush Rhees. They will be promoting in-season foods and zero-waste dining practices.
  • Grassroots’ bi-weekly meetings about an environmental issue and their March clothing exchange.
  • Food Recovery Network’s weekly food donation runs. Meet them outside Connections Café at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays to join.
Listing all of the events happening during campus race to zero waste in different colored boxes (green, blue, teal) with the CR2ZW logo.

Written by Sarah Woodams ‘24(T5)

Photos by Facilities Team Green

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