Recyclemania's Freecycle event teaches recycling

by Jenni Leahy / Beacon Correspondent • March 21, 2013

Junior Kaela Holmes weighs waste with Earth Emerson in the dining hall
Junior Kaela Holmes weighs waste with Earth Emerson in the dining hall

Earth Emerson is participating in this year’s Recyclemania for the second time, a competition in which colleges and universities across the United States and Canada vie for the title of Grand Champion. 

Schools are ranked by how much recycled material they produce in comparison to their amount of trash. From Feb. 3 to March 30, the club hosts several events to increase the college’s recycling rate.

Last Wednesday in the Bill Bordy Theater, Earth Emerson held its first student Freecycle, one of Recyclemania’s events. A Freecycle is a place where students can bring clothing, accessories, or other items they no longer want in the hopes of finding something new.

Sophomore performing arts major and Earth Emerson member Naomi Ibasitas said Freecycle provides an opportunity for students to trade items with other students.

 “This event is for people who have a lot of stuff they don’t want,” said Ibasitas. “If they have something just lying around they can bring it here for somebody else to pick up and they in turn can pick up what they like. It’s totally free! Free stuff for college students, and that’s great.”

The first Freecycle was only offered to Emerson faculty, according to Co-President of Earth Emerson and junior journalism major Kaela Holmes. Last month, the staff brought in office supplies they didn’t want anymore, and were able to take the office supplies they needed in return. After the success of the first event, Earth Emerson decided to open it up to students.

“I brought a pair of rain boots that my old roommate left in my dorm; they actually just got snatched up,” said Holmes. “They were just lying around. I thought nobody wanted them, so I brought them here.”

Holmes said the goal of Freecycle was to show students that recycling is not just confined to paper and bottles but occurs on all levels. Co-President of Earth Emerson Erin Moriarty, a senior marketing communication major, said she hopes that Freecycling will become an Emerson tradition. According to Ibasitas, the Freecycle was one of Recyclemania’s more successful events.

Holmes said at first, both she and Moriarty were reluctant to again participate in the competition. The organization previously faced difficulty in getting the word out to the student body, and was unable to produce its desired results. Emerson College placed 220 out of 266 schools with a recycling rate of only 17.6 percent in last year’s Recyclemania competition.

Earth Emerson has found it hard to reach the student body, according to Moriarty. Recycling isn’t normally the most important thing on everyone’s mind, but the club hopes to rectify this by placing recycling bins in every classroom.

Moriarty said that because of the strong support and encouragement from several members of the faculty, the club decided to try Recyclemania again. Nancy Howell from the Office of Creative Services also joined the effort this year, and Holmes said she has been a huge help in promoting and planning events.

Currently, Emerson is placed 234 out of 263 schools. Though the college’s position is lower than last year, technology director in the School of Communication Jonathan Satriale said each time is a learning experience. 

Before they entered, Emerson did some research to see what the competition entailed. According to Satriale, this year has been about finding ways to try and engage the Emerson community and increase awareness and participation. Next year Satriale and the rest of Emerson’s environmental team will use what they have learned to spot trends and make improvements.

“This year is better than last year,” said Moriarty. “We have more school support, and it’s being advertised on the televisions and in emails.  We have given out pens and pencils made of out of recycled newspapers, denim, and currency.“

Moriarty said every year Earth Emerson participates in Recyclemania, the better the college will do. The club’s members hope to go even further by taking the college’s trash and recycling bins and disposing of their contents cleanly and safely.

According to Recyclemania, Emerson College has recycled 83 metric tons of CO2 equivalent, equal to getting 16 cars off the road, or the energy consumption of seven households. For the college to increase its recycling rate, Holmes said Emerson provides all the facilities the students need, it’s just about  making the decision to recycle.

“We try to promote environmental awareness and love and activism, not in your face activism like, ‘Arrgh do this!’ We try to think of fun ways to educate people about how to be green.” Moriarty said. “There’s something for everyone to love about Earth.”