By Carvan Craft
Who said it can’t be fun to help the environment? By capitalizing on the spirit of sports rivalries, these three competitions have prompted colleges and universities to recycle, reduce electricity use, get outside and pounce on their chance to win.
Eleven Appalachian regional universities recently participated in an annual throwdown to see which school can recycle the most. Known as RecycleMania, this year’s event had the greatest turnout since the competition began in 2001.
From Feb. 3 to Mar. 29, more than 5.3 million students from the United States and Canada recycled 89.1 million pounds of materials, preventing 126,597 metric tons of carbon dioxide from releasing into the atmosphere.
Antioch University in Seattle took top honors in the event, which has inspired more campuses to further reduce their waste, and to work towards a greener country.
This event is considered the largest water and electricity reduction competition for universities and colleges in the world. The Campus Conservation Nationals started with 38 campuses in 2010 and grew to more than 100 campuses this year, including eight campuses in Appalachia.
Western Carolina University and Appalachian State University created an energy conservation sub-competition called the Battle of the Plug. The regional rivalry between the two mountain universities created an incentive for the students to lower their energy use. While Appalachian State University won this year, both universities made the top 10 in the Campus Conservation Nationals’ electricity competition. Through this contest, campuses have come together to reduce fossil fuel consumption.
The Best Outdoor School is a voting competition, courtesy of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, that encourages students to take pride in their natural surroundings. This was the third year of the annual competition, with 32 colleges and universities across the mid-Atlantic and Southeast participating. Of these, 21 are in Appalachia.
The competition is set up like a sports championship bracket, and in each round students show their enthusiasm for their school’s environment through their votes. The event also provides incoming students with the opportunity to choose a school that matches their passion for the outdoors.
As of press time, Western Carolina University and Garrett College had climbed to the top two spots, but the winner had not yet been announced. To find out who won, visit: blueridgeoutdoors.com