Campaign organizers hope to jumpstart recycling efforts

Recycling in Coral Gables campus is not where university and student leaders would like it to be.

But Lara Polansky, president of UM’s chapter of Earth Alert, hopes that this year that will change with the university’s participation in the national RecycleMania campaign.

“This competition is just a way to jumpstart what we hope to be a long-term on the UM campus,” Polansky said.

While Earth Alert is in charge of spreading the word and encouraging student participation, UM’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety is in charge of the competition, which began Jan. 29 and lasts 10 weeks.

The competition, sponsored nationally by the Environmental Protection Agency, pits 201 colleges and universities against each in an effort to recycle the most bottles, paper and plastic products.

UM is competing against other ACC schools to see who collects the most recyclables in the allotted time. Other Florida universities participating include Nova Southeastern University, University of Central Florida and University of Florida.

Ken Capezzuto, director of EHS, started looking in to RecycleMania last semester in order to bring the competition to the university.

“If we [are going to] get the university committed to recycling, you have to make it easy and convenient,” he said. Like Polansky, Capezzuto said this is a starting point. “We’re going to continue this and grow.”

President Donna E. Shalala believes that prior recycling efforts failed because students were not as conscious of environmental issues, such as global warming.

“We’re going to try it again,” she said. “I’m for recycling. It has not been successful in the past on this campus, but I think the students’ attitudes are changing about their willingness to do it. Our administrative offices already do recycling, the question is, ‘Can we excite the student body?'”

John Constantinide, speaker of the Student Government Senate, told The Miami Hurricane before last semester’s State of the University address that the Senate had established a recycling sub-committee, noting that there is increased publicity and expanded availability of recycling bins, particularly in the University Center.

With RecycleMania, the university hopes to reach out to students by placing various recycling bins around the green in as many as 20 locations, Capezzuto said. Other locations will include dining halls and food court as well as by expanding recycling in the dorms.

Polansky noted that there is currently no recycling at University Village or the intramural fields

A number of smaller on-campus competitions are planned, such as contests among all the in the residential colleges, between each tower in Hecht and Stanford, and by floor. Student organizations with offices will also participate, with one person from each group designated to keep track of their total-relying on the honor system. The Pan-Hellenic Council has also expressed interest in participating.

For the overall contest, there will be a formal calculation of the number of pounds collected, with periodic progress updates.

Nikita Shiel-Rolle, a member of Earth Alert, hopes that the competitive spirit will help improve the university in more than one way.

“We want to change the mentality of our school,” she said, later adding. “We are a leading school and it’s important for us to lead in all ways.”

Earth Alert will be tabling in the UC Breezeway throughout the campaign to inform students. Similarly, the group plans to host UM Recycles Day Feb. 27 on the Rock, where students who bring recyclables will be entered in a raffle.

More information about the overall Recycle Mania competition may be found at

Greg Linch may be contacted at