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Flocking Together for Zero Waste

Endicott College Campus Race to Zero Waste
A fun-filled race sponsored by the Office of Sustainability is bringing the Endicott community together to reduce waste in a friendly competition against other colleges and universities.
By: Madison Schulman

In the 2022 Campus Race to Zero Waste, Endicott College placed 43rd out of 103 schools in the diversion category, 12th out of 91 schools for food organics, and 57th out of 119 schools for per capita recycling. 

Even with these impressive results, the Office of Sustainability is again looking to take on the competition in this year’s race. While improving their stats is important, the office also seeks to bring the entire Endicott community together on waste reduction. 

“We want to raise awareness that although one individual’s actions may seem small, all of us working together towards the same thing, all of us making small changes like going for reusables over disposables, or learning about recycling, can create huge positive change,” said Carly Thibodeau, Associate Director of Sustainability. 

The competition, formerly known as RecycleMania, was started in 2001 by Ohio State and Miami Universities. The 2023 race started on January 29 and will run until March 25. 

Working with various departments and clubs on campus, interactive events are planned over the challenge’s eight weeks, with each week offering a different theme that encourages waste reduction—with a side of fun. 

For two of the weeks, Gulls will even compete against each other in a friendly competition hosted by the Office of Sustainability and Residence Life. The Residence Hall that diverts the most waste and produces the most recycling per capita (person) will win an ice cream social for its residents. 

Staff and faculty will also join in on their own competition (also for two of the weeks) to see which office can reduce, reuse, and recycle the most. The team with the most points (per capita) will win a gift card to Organic Garden Café in Beverly.

“We're hoping to inspire behavior changes that reduce or eliminate waste, even if they’re as simple as opting for a reusable water bottle or grocery bag instead of disposables,” said George Anderson, Sustainability Coordinator. 

On February 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Office of Sustainability joins forces with Endicott Athletics to host engaging halftime challenges during the men’s basketball game against Western New England. The event (during week two’s reduce theme) encourages students to reduce and recycle game-time waste, receiving a prize pack if their group wins. 

“It’s really exciting that we’re able to reach the students in different ways and try to get them to participate in these events,” said Nate Chandler ’24, Communications Fellow for the Office of Sustainability and marketing major. “Just gain more knowledge about how you can recycle and become greener as a person or as a school altogether.”

A popular event from last year, Endicott’s Freecycle Thrift Store will take place during week three (reuse theme) on February 14 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Lower Callahan. It’s a collaboration between the Office of Sustainability; the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging; the Office of Community Service; and the Career and Internship Center. 

Students may shop for donated items from the Endicott community, including freecycled items such as clothes, office supplies, and home decor. Items are free, but a $5 donation to benefit Beverly Bootstraps is suggested. 

“A lot of people go thrift shopping nowadays, and I thrift shop a lot,” said Sophia Gosselin-Smoske ’24, Research and DEIB Fellow for the Office of Sustainability and environmental science major. “It’s cheaper, and you can find some nice clothes. It’s kind of like that, except you don't have to pay for it.”

While the race is fun in nature, it’s also a chance to reflect on how much waste we produce and how it affects our environment, said Anderson. 

“Most people understand that by throwing things away, we’re filling up landfills and depleting the planet’s natural resources. But what many people don’t know is that as waste decomposes—which can take a very, very long time—it releases harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, further driving climate change,” said Anderson. 

“Climate change is a huge problem, so it’s imperative that everybody does their part,” said Chandler. “This is a great opportunity for everybody to do that and start these next eight weeks.”

Learn more about events, schedules, and the 2023 Campus Race to Zero Waste.