Next weekend, the football team will compete against rival Harvard at the Yale Bowl. But C.J. May wants the Bulldogs to prevail not only on the gridiron, but also in a less glorious arena: trash dumpsters.
May, the University recycling coordinator, is arranging a recycling competition for the current school year. The contest will measure recycling rates and per capita trash production at Yale and Harvard, but May said he hopes it will eventually include all of the Ivies. The competition will be formally announced today to coincide with America Recycling Day.
May said he will set up recycling awareness booths at the Harvard-Yale game and is helping Berkeley College arrange a sustainable tailgate. The tailgate will use only biodegradable utensils, which will be taken to the Yale compost project after the party.
May said he hopes the same intensity generated by the football contest will translate into desire to out-recycle the Crimson.
“Nothing gets Yalies more riled up than doing something with Harvard,” May said. “I want students to think, ‘Even if I can’t throw a touchdown pass, I can help trounce them in recycling.'”
Harvard Manager of Recycling and Waste Management Rob Gogan agreed that capitalizing on a long-standing rivalry will heighten student response.
“[Harvard] students only care about beating Yale,” Gogan said.
Gogan said he thinks public displays tend to spark student awareness and interest. On Nov. 11, Harvard students constructed “Mount Trashmore,” a mound containing 14 percent of the school’s daily garbage production that was 20 feet in diameter and 10 feet high.
Gogan fueled the rivalry with some literal trash-talking.
“I am cautiously optimistic that we will smoke you guys again. Our numbers are up from last year,” Gogan said.
The Elis have some catching up to do if they are to defeat their northern rival. Last year, Harvard’s recycling rate, a measure of how many recyclables are actually recycled, was 20 percent higher than Yale’s. Yale placed only 16 percent of cans, cardboard, paper and other recyclables in blue bins.
May said two-fifths of Yale’s trash could be recycled. By increasing student motivation to recycle with programs such as the Green Cup, May said he is confident that the University can overtake Harvard.
“We are doing poorly because we are not putting stuff in the right bins,” said May. “We don’t have to recycle belly button lint, just put stuff in the bins, and we can kick them all the way back to Cambridge.”
Despite lower recycling rates, the Elis produced 20 pounds less trash per capita in fiscal year 2003. The most recent trash audit at Harvard showed 43 percent of the university’s trash could have been recycled, Gogan said.
May and Gogan will measure the recycling rate for basic recyclables — paper, cardboard, cans and bottles — each month, and plan to present the results at the 2004 Harvard-Yale game. The victor will get a trophy and bragging rights, they said, and the loser will be awarded a healthy dose of humility. In a friendly bet, May and Gogan agreed to wear the winning school’s sweatshirt around campus for a week.
Monthly results for the contest will be posted on the Yale recycling web site, http://www.yale.edu/recycling.