Earth Day: April 22, 2015
Antioch University Seattle Defends Title as North American Recyclemania Champ
Seattle – When your university recycles 96 percent of the waste it generates, people tend to take notice. So learned Michael Johnson, the facilities director at Antioch University Seattle (AUS) after AUS won – for the second time in a row – the North American Recyclemania Tournament.
“This project was a team effort, and every person in the AUS community worked together to divert almost all waste to recycling, right down to every water bottle cap and scrap of paper,” said Johnson, who was the organizing force behind AUS’s participation in the regional recycling and conservation challenge. “Sustainability is a major focus for our university, and everyone was very excited to participate.”
The tournament pits 393 participating colleges and universities in the United States and Canada against each other with the goal of recycling the most waste over eight weeks. Last year, AUS recycled just over 93% percent of its waste, which earned the environmental and social justice-focused school its first Recyclemania title. The secret to AUS’ success is the student body’s concern for the environment coupled with unique processes that encourage conservation already in place.
AUS offers multiple academic programs centered around environmental justice and sustainability – in fact the topic is incorporated into core curriculum – so educating students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community about the importance of the initiative was relatively easy, according to Nicholas Vail the marketing manager at AUS charged with promoting Recyclemania.
“As a learning community, we seek to understand the complex dynamics of sustainability. As citizens of Seattle, the nation, and the world, we apply what we learn to help build a healthy, vibrant future for all,” Vail said. “It clearly resonated, given that we topped last year’s record breaking effort. Kudos to all who joined in!”
He spread the word through methods that had zero environmental impact such as email and social media. But for many, recycling is already second nature.
“AUS operates under a very environmentally-friendly model already; for example, it’s actually a bit tricky to find a garbage can on campus, which encourages people to bring reusable water bottles and bags, or recycle every piece of trash.”
AUS’s Green Campus initiatives include many ways the campus community realizes its commitment to sustainability. In 2008, AUS signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and have committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2021. To help with this important undertaking, AUS organized a Presidential Task Force on Sustainability comprised of students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Access to bike lockers and zipcars promotes walking or biking to campus, and AUS consistently generates less waste per capital than most other universities and colleges in the US.
In recognition of the latest Recyclemania achievement, AUS will receive an award made out of recyclable materials and the right to host that category’s special traveling trophy for the coming year.
About Antioch University Seattle
Antioch University Seattle is a fully accredited, not for profit institution that is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. Antioch University provides real world knowledge, skills, and experience to adult students online and from its five campuses in four states, in addition to its University-wide international and doctoral programs. The University lives by its mission every day helping students realize their potential and succeed in their educational goals through an innovative learning environment that is rigorous and responsive to their needs. Antioch University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1927.