Have you thrown away a plastic bottle today?

An aluminum can?

A stack of old papers?

Food or broken electronics?

Guess what? You’re scoring for the other team.

Starting Feb. 2, every time you complete any of these actions, you will be deducting points from Clemson University in the national RecycleMania competition.

For 10 weeks, Clemson will compete against more than 600 other universities in the United States, Canada and Mexico to see who is the most sustainable. The competition serves to display the universities with the top sustainable habits and increase awareness on the importance of recycling.

“Each year the RecycleMania Competition gives us the opportunity to showcase our recycling and sustainability efforts to other colleges and universities,” said Dave VanDeventer, campus recycling manager.

In the past year, Clemson has substantially increased its sustainability strategies. Recycling rates continue to grow on-campus, and through innovative developments, the University’s standing in the competition should show significant improvements this year. In 2011, Clemson implemented the New Recycling Initiative to improve efforts in achieving the sustainability goal to reduce energy consumption 20 percent by 2020. For this competition, those efforts may help push Clemson to its goal of a 35 percent recycling rate by March.

The New Recycling Initiative focuses on minimalizing recycled waste in trash cans. Faculty, staff and students now have the ability to recycle right at their desks with the mini blue bins. Trash cans have also been removed from classrooms to direct people to recycle in the bins in hallways, and the recycle pickup schedule has been rerouted to be more sustainable.

“Recycling and sustainability are quickly becoming a part of Clemson’s culture on campus,” said Kate Ripley, Recycling Services intern.

The RecycleMania competition will last from Feb. 2 to March 31 and requires universities to report recycling versus trash statistics. These statistics are then used to rank schools on their sustainability efforts.

This year, Clemson Recycling Services, Housing, Clemson Undergraduate Student Government and Solid Green are partnering to make this competition bigger and better than ever. There are numerous events planned for people to get involved:

  • A kick-off event on Feb. 2 in the Hendrix Student Center and Union Loggia,
  • Housing Recycling Competition in residence halls,
  • Clemson Dirty Jobs on Kite Hill at the end of February,
  • Off-Campus Recycling Day in March,
  • Spring Cleaning/Shred Day for faculty at the end of March,
  • Art competition and show at the beginning of April,
  • RecycleMania Video Competition.

Clemson participated in RecycleMania last year and recycled 255,687 pounds of material, placing 2nd in the ACC Division behind the University of Maryland. This year, the University aspires to be No. 1 in the ACC Division.

“One unique aspect of RecycleMania is that everyone is a competitor,” said Bill Rudy, recycling coordinator at Brigham Young University and chair of the RecycleMania Steering Committee. “No one sits on the sidelines. When a student recycles they add to their score, and if they throw something away it hurts the school’s ranking. With the whole campus in the game, the competitive spirit spreads and recycling increases.”

Students, faculty, staff and even community members are encouraged to show their Tiger pride and get involved by recycling in the blue bins on campus and on Kite Hill. The competition includes paper, plastic, cardboard, food waste and electronic waste.

University groups such as CUSG and Housing have become involved by implementing the student eco-rep role on campus where students can collaborate on how to improve sustainability efforts. Recycling stations are also increasing around campus, and fans can now recycle at basketball games with the plan to continue recycling initiatives when baseball season begins.

The University hopes to show the nation that Clemson’s recycling initiative is an example for other institutions to model. The sustainability efforts of 20 percent by 2020 are only one aspect that drives the push to be a top-20 school. The innovation of this program continues to portray drive in all areas of Clemson University for its goal to have a better future, today.