Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU to participate in Recyclemania, Energy Competition

January 31, 2011

Indiana State University students have a new incentive to recycle and save energy.

Beginning Feb. 6, ISU will be competing in the national Recyclemania competition, designed to promote recycling and waste reduction among college students. ISU residence hall groups also will be competing in an Energy Conservation Competition from Feb. 1 to March 31.

Both competitions are part of ISU's effort to become carbon neutral in the future, according to the Climate Action Plan issued in 2010.

"ISU is actually in a good place for reducing its carbon footprint," said Jim Speer, associate professor of geography and geology and director of the Office of Sustainability. "Sustainability is actually something that can save us money during this time of budget cuts."

ISU will be competing against more than 600 universities across the United States during Recyclemania, while ISU on-campus residents will be competing against each other in a battle between residence halls. For the recycling competition, each residence hall will be its own team.

Four categories exist for Recyclemania: largest amount of recyclables per capita, largest amount of total recyclables, least amount of trash per capita and highest recycling rate.

Paper, cardboard and beverage containers will be weighed for this 10-week competition, which will end Apr. 2.

"It's pretty amazing what you can recycle," said Jim Speer, interim coordinator for the Center for Science Education.

Though some students may have questions about which materials are recyclable, Speer said "just go for it." Facilities Management will ensure that only the correct materials are weighed for the competition.

The residence halls have been divided into groups for the energy competition. The five teams are as follows: Sycamore Towers, Burford, Hines/Jones/Sandison, Lincoln Quads and University Apartments. By turning off lights and televisions and unplugging cell phone chargers when not in use, students reduce the energy they use.

Speer said the number of kilowatt hours used per student in each residence hall group will be tracked, so residence halls with fewer students will not have an advantage.

"We will track how much energy per student has been reduced," Speer said.

Other universities have seen up to a 44 percent decrease in energy usage during similar competitions, Speer said.

A sustainability survey was sent out to members of the ISU community in December. Using the results from the survey, Virgil Sheets, the chair of the psychology department, will determine the effects the interventions have had on student sustainability.

"We will see if student perception has changed," Speer said, noting that ISU already has a lot of support for sustainability. "The purpose of Recyclemania and the Energy Conservation Competition is to really bring students into that conversation on campus."

The winners of the Recyclemania and energy competitions will be announced at ISU's Earth Day celebration on Apr. 21.

Contact: Jim Speer, interim coordinator of the Center for Science Education, Indiana State University, 812-237-3011 or

Writer: Lana Schrock, media relations assistant, Indiana State University Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3773 or