Friday, February 29, 2008

RecycleMANIA Misses the Point, GW's Eco-Challenge Nails It

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

There's a reason for the order of the common phrase we learned throughout middle school. Reducing your consumption of energy, plastic, gas, etc. are the most effective steps you can take to aid the environment. Recycling, on the other hand, is the least effective, because it doesn't change habits and uses more resources to process.

That said, the RecycleMANIA! competition put on by GW's Residential Services that pits GW vs. the University of Maryland totally misses the point. For a competition whose stated goals are "to reduce waste generated on campus", giving an incentive to recycle is just telling students to use more and throw it in a certain bin -- not proper habits for sustainability.

Not to mention, huddling all of J Street's recycling bins into one corner, forcing non-committed recyclers to hunt for them, is not benefiting the cause. The display of prizes for taking the dining services survey doesn't help much, either. It's all well intentioned, but not effective.

Ironically, RecycleMANIA should take a page from GW's Eco-Challenge, also from the GW Residential Services. While RecycleMANIA promotes consumption, the Eco-Challenge offers an incentive for reducing use of electricity and water and displaying eco-spirit (whatever that means).

These are the types of steps that the world needs to take to solve its sustainability problem, not simply recycling. Using less is easier, cheaper, and goes much further towards sustainable living.

So, everyone go sign up for the Eco-Challenge (it's quick, easy, and requires you to do absolutely nothing) and to hell with RecycleMANIA.

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