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Cornell’s Mission to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Haley Doran & Emma McQuade

At Cornell University, over one million disposable cups are used on campus each year.

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“Kick The Cup Coffee” Event.

In an effort to combat this issue and promote the recycling of all recyclable materials, Cornell University took part in RecycleMania, an eight-week competition for colleges and universities across the United States and Canada aiming to promote waste reduction activities on campuses.

Mark Hall of the R5 Operations, a department dedicated to supporting the university’s mission to keep the campus safe, attractive, functional and efficient, said the university has been involved with RecycleMania for four years.  Hall spearheaded the “Kick the Cup” event on campus three years ago, which allows students the opportunity to have free coffee, tea or hot chocolate every Wednesday for the duration of the competition if they provide a reusable cup.

“I enjoy doing the outreach,” said Hall.  “I get to meet all the students and tell them this stuff.”

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Hall waiting for customers.

Each week, participating schools report their amount of recycling and trash, and are able to track their efforts in comparison to other campuses.  The university ranks highly in waste minimization and waste diversion every year, even as the competition gets intensive.

“We’ve always been in the top 20-25 percent,” said Hall.  “The good thing is that more schools are getting involved, which pushes our ranking down but I think we’re doing fine.”

Students at the university, including Andrew Peterson, a computer science major,  welcome the efforts to promote recycling materials.  Through the university’s events like “Kick The Cup” and “RecycleMania GameDay Basketball,” aimed to make students more aware of waste used on game days, students understand the importance of recycling.

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Coffee from the event in an eco-friendly glass.

“Everyone here seems onboard with it,” said Peterson.  “The campus just does a great job of encouraging it and with events like these, it’s easy – they make it easy for you.”

Rene Tsukawki an English major at the university and visitor to the weekly “Kick The Cup” event believes that recycling is vital to helping the environment.

“I think people take for granted a lot of what we have right now and it’s because the generations before us lived a certain way,” said Tsukawki.  “I might not be alive by the time it takes effect but if it’s only a few moments of effort on my part, just throwing something in the right bin or taking a few extra steps, to guarantee that other people will have a better environment, then why not?”

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Cornell student making tea.

Zoe Watkins, a government major and frequent visitor to the “Kick The Cup” event said that the most important thing to remember impact recycling has on the world.

“It’s something that can be easily changed and has a large impact on the whole world, not just our campus,” said Watkins.  “It starts with us.”

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