Marywood competes in the Race to Zero Waste

Marywood joins national competition to eliminate waste.

Photo credit/ Sara Melick

Marywood joins national competition to eliminate waste.

Marywood is joining universities across the country to improve recycling and waste production around campus. The “Campus Race to Zero Waste” is a nationwide, eight-week-long event where colleges compete to make the biggest environmental impact. During each week of the competition, students of Marywood’s Environmental Club will calculate the amount that the community has recycled through a volume-to-weight conversion and compete with similarly sized schools.

There are several categories of competition including zero waste, diversion, food organics, or per-capita recycling. With this semester being the first time Marywood has competed, the focus will be solely on the per-capita recycling category.

Sara Melick, instructor of Environmental Science and advisor to the Environmental Club, explained that this competition is just one way that Marywood upholds its mission and core values and Pope Francis’ “Laudator Si” initiative to care for the environment.

“I think especially at Marywood with our mission and core values, it’s important for us to really take care of our common home, which is part of the ‘Laudato Si’ plan and action that we’re taking,” said Melick. “Pope Francis is calling us all to take care and as university students, they need to be more aware of their environmental impact. There are things that they can do that won’t cost them any money and won’t change their lifestyles drastically.”

The main goal of this campaign is to encourage students to be more environmentally conscious and to demonstrate to students that personal sustainability is possible.

“They can take really small actions and they don’t have to drastically spend a ton of money or change their habits drastically; we can make simple swaps that will have a big impact,” explained Melick.

Under the advising of Melick, students in the Environmental Club are determined to engage the Marywood community to care about sustainability. Emily Haggerty is doing all she can to promote sustainability during this competition.

While majoring in environmental studies, being the secretary of the Environmental Club, and being the Sustainability Representative for Student Government Association, Haggerty agrees that sustainability is at the heart of Marywood’s core values.

“Part of Marywood’s mission statement says that ‘Marywood University prepares students to seek sustainable solutions for the common good’. This competition is a huge way of bringing this part of our mission statement to life, to educate on a widespread basis, measures we can take to improve our recycling habits, and to leave behind a world that was improved by our presence,” explained Haggerty.

Although the Race to Zero Waste is hosted by the Environmental Club, the entire Marywood community is getting involved in the effort to recycle. The Architecture department is hosting a Paper Airplane competition, the Student Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is hosting a Recycle and Repurpose Food Scraps demonstration, and the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion is tackling Fast Fashion with a university wide clothing swap.

One objective of this competition is to help students be more environmentally conscious no matter what they’re majoring in, by getting various departments involved.

“The main thing we want to impress upon students is that their actions, no matter how small or insignificant they seem, are incredibly important when considering our environment, the greatest way to start living a sustainable life is to examine how our ways of life affect the world around us, and start finding ways to reduce our effect in small steps. A little bit of effort builds up fast,” said Haggerty.

The competition is currently ongoing and will conclude on Mar. 24.

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