Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 14, 2014

OUS student using garbage to encourage recycling

IRONTON — Ohio University Southern junior Sarah Simmons said the best way to get the attention of the community is by shocking them.

She chose to do just that by arranging for a huge mountain of trash, referred to as Mount Trashmore, to be placed in the middle of the campus courtyard.

The trash pile serves as a tangible demonstration of the trash a community accumulates over a short time and how recycling can help reduce this waste.

The event, Recyclemania, has spread to colleges and universities across the United States and Canada, but began at Ohio University’s main campus in Athens.

While the overall goal to raise awareness and promote recycling habits has remained the same, an element of competition has been added.

The university with the highest total pounds of trash by March 29 wins coveted bragging rights over the 600 participating schools that represent 49 states and four Canadian provinces.

Simmons spearheaded OUS’ involvement this year. With the support of other organizations, like the three-person Eco Club and a few students with the Art Collaborative. Simmons said Mount Trashmore is off to a good start.

About 30 to 40 bags of trash spread over two pallets had accumulated from Monday to Wednesday afternoon, and she suspects it could be overflowing by next week when the campaign ends.

The competition aspect has allowed Recyclemania to engage students who otherwise may not have been interested in recycling, Simmons said.

But this tactic may not bode as well with smaller branches of universities, like OUS, who are not as involved in the traditional rivalries, she said.

“I think it works for bigger campuses when you have sports games and teams fighting to see who can do the most recycling at a sports games or other events, but here, not so much,” Simmons said. “That’s why we have to start thinking about other things we can do with Recyclemania to really grab everyone’s attention.”

Simmons has started another smaller campaign throughout the community called “Caught Green-handed,” which rewards random people caught in the act of recycling.

So far, she has given out a few small prizes, but she said everyone “caught” has been pleasantly surprised.

But as far as attention-grabbing stunts go, Simmons is confident Mount Trashmore is doing its job to turn heads.

“Hopefully it will help people think before they toss something into the trash.”

For more information about Recyclemania, go to recyclemaniacs.org.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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