The University of Richmond Rethink Waste campaign joined the Spring 2022 Campus Race to Zero Waste to help promote recycling and waste diversion.
Formerly known as RecycleMania, CR2ZW began on Jan. 30 and is an international 8-week competition among colleges and universities, according to its website.
UR is competing in the Diversion category for medium-size schools. Schools can compete in any of the four main CR2ZW categories including Diversion, Zero Waste, Food Organics and Stephen K Gaski Per Capita, according to its website.
While the "Diversion" category aligns best with the Rethink Waste initiative’s overall focus on waste diversion, the ultimate goal is for UR to eventually compete in the Zero Waste category, said Ava Boltwood, a first-year Rethink Waste representative.
Aside from taking a break in 2021 because of COVID-19, UR has participated in CR2ZW since spring of 2017, when the Rethink Waste initiative was originally launched. The competition helped UR pursue the long-term goal of 75% waste diversion by 2025, as outlined on the UR Office for Sustainability website.
To track UR’s progress, the Rethink Waste office supervisors weigh all the dumpsters on campus daily, David Donaldson, UR Rethink Waste manager, said. Three schools are chosen as winners in each category to receive an electronic badge, according to the CR2ZW website.
As of Feb. 18, UR was ranked 24th overall in the Diversion category, 2nd among Virginia schools and 10th among medium-sized campuses, Donaldson said. Rankings are updated weekly and UR’s rankings can be found on the Rethink Waste Instagram account, @ur_rethinkwaste, said Rebecca Delrosso, a sophomore Rethink Waste representative.
The Rethink Waste office opened the Spider Exchange at the start of the spring 2022 semester. It is a great platform to get the UR community involved with CR2ZW and reusing items rather than throwing them out, Donaldson said.
The Spider Exchange is located on Old Fraternity Row and is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Donaldson said the exchange was like a ‘free store’ where anyone in the UR community could donate and shop for used items.
For sophomore and Rethink Waste representative Kalindi Kapadia, the Spider Exchange is a fun way for the UR community to get involved with CR2ZW and consider diverting waste, she said.
Kapadia said her experience with scuba diving is what inspired her to become a representative.
“I've always been into sustainability and I scuba dive," Kapadia said. "So, I kind of see how it is like the progression of climate change. And that's why I was like, 'I want to help with sustainability on campus.'”
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Even if students can’t commit to becoming a Rethink Waste representative, small actions can help UR get closer to the sustainability goals and succeed in CR2ZW, sophomore Rebecca Delrosso said.
“Something as simple as making sure you're composting and recycling when you eat, making sure your friends around you are also doing so and actually sorting your garbage from your dorm,” Delrosso said. “But just doing small things like that. If everybody does it, it'll help us.”
Contact news writer Katie Castellani at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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