By: Oren Herschander  | 

Recycle Because It's Hard to Go Through Your Trash

An exciting eight-week period for the sustainability universe, RecycleMania is a competition to promote waste reduction activities on campuses across the nation. In an attempt to motivate students to increase recycling efforts, YU’s Office of Energy and Sustainability and the Eco Representatives, an environmental leadership program, have just kicked off this year’s RecycleMania campaign.

Along with my fellow Eco Representatives, I sort through bags of recycling on both campuses, as the RecycleMania competition requires our team to report the amount of recycling produced each week, university-wide. While last year, Yeshiva University did well in our divisional rankings, this year we hope to do even better!

Once a week, Eco Representatives grab their industrial scales and head over to various bag drop off locations on each campus with a mission to weigh the recycling totals for each week. Since the garbage bags and recycling bags are piled into adjacent piles, a certain amount of sifting around garbage bags is required to weigh the recycling. Despite the bitter cold, recycling bags filled with soda bottles, salad containers, and all rigid plastic, in addition to paper materials, are sorted, weighed, and tallied.

The beginning of this year’s RecycleMania have so far yielded lower results than expected, jump-starting a wave of sustainability and recycling awareness campaigns on campus. Look out for contests on the RecycleMania Facebook page, which award Starbucks and Amazon Gift cards to the most creative and liked pictures and videos related to recycling. Also, some fun tabling displays featuring interactive recycling activities will be popping up around Yeshiva University campuses.

A major issue facing Yeshiva University is that a lot of people are unaware as to what is or isn’t recyclable in New York City, and in turn throw away many items that are actually recyclable. While there are easy-to-read charts and videos showing what is or is not recyclable, it is often easier to give tangible examples that a student might encounter on a day-to-day basis.

For plastic recyclables, all hard, rigid plastic – that’s your salad containers (because of the cleaning process taking place at recycling facilities, they do not need to be 100% clean), sushi containers, forks, knives, and spoons. Plastic recycling can be placed in the marked blue bins, and while the coke bottle shaped containers feature lids which are only equipped to receive bottles, the bins can actually take salad containers, and all the other things mentioned above. It’s as easy as simply lifting the lid and placing all larger items inside. Most universities have specific plastic bins, equipped for all types of plastics that are not just bottles, making recycling more of a natural and less awkward process; unfortunately, due to budgetary concerns and lack of interest, Yeshiva University falls behind other universities, with the few bins set aside for plastic divided between the blue bottle bin containers and the free ones provided by the Coca-Cola Company.

All said and done, RecycleMania is an important time of year because it brings campus recycling issues to the forefront, which should spark a sense of general awareness beyond even those of sustainability and the future of our planet.

For me, recycling, beyond the environmental and financial benefits, raises an element of awareness that reminds me of my surroundings, and the stories of everything I use. Where did this salad container come from, where will it go once I toss it away, and who is the Eco Representative weighing it?

If you are interested in getting more involved in sustainability, and recycling efforts on campus please contact the Office of Energy and Sustainability at or visit us online at!