We’re solidly into the year’s second term, and as midterms loom behind corners and and tests poke their ugly heads out from under piles of paper like the monster under the bed, it is very easy to break positive habits like minimizing waste and turning off lights when not in use. These aren’t criminal offenses of course, but this year Knox is participating in a nationwide effort to keep our focus on sustainability.


For the first time, Knox is a proud participant in Recyclemania, a nationwide competition centered around waste reduction and recycling awareness. By benchmarking ourselves against other schools, we are able to see just how we measure up as an institution committed to sustainable practices and environmentally conscious lifestyles (and maybe earn some bragging rights, too). The competition takes place over the course of 8 weeks each Spring; schools measure and report their respective amounts of trash and recycling. These are turned into scores, which are posted and constantly updated to try and rally student bodies to do better and continuously improve their ecological footprint.


The classic 8-week tournament has several different categories in which to measure waste reduction, the first being Diversion.This category is focused on the percentage of recyclables and diverted food waste from the total overall waste of the school. Basically, whichever school has the highest percentage of their waste being sustainably handled will be crowned the winner, and be nationally recognized for their efforts and waste removal programs. The second category measures recyclables and food waste reported on a per person basis, done by taking the school’s total weight of recycling and dividing it by the population of the students and staff. In short, this is more about the average amount of  waste and recycling each person generates. This category also has a “most improved” award, which Knox will be eligible to participate in next year. The final category is the most complex, and is focused on food waste. Based on the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, schools are awarded points based on the number of food waste minimization activities that are put in place, in addition to food waste diversion efforts, such as food donated to those in need, fed to animals, used for biofuels, or composted. While the first method measures the entire school as a single unit, and the second is focused on the individual as the waste producer, this category focuses on finding alternate uses for waste instead of strictly minimizing it.


Knox is not new to waste reduction and recycling efforts. And many of the food waste activities are already in place, such as reusable to-go containers and trayless dining. On top of that, measuring food waste is no new thing for Knox students, as the Food Recovery Network just had their Weight the Waste event on the week of the 22nd. These initiatives prove that we can do well in this competition, and be sustainable whilst still having fun.


Recyclemania kicks off formally on Feb 4th!  Read more about events planned during the 8-week competition at www.knox.edu/RecycleMania.


Follow Knox’s efforts as we post weekly updates:




Follow the national event on social media:





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