Living Sustainably: Hope College’s RecycleMania limits landfill waste

By Karen Frink, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute Intern

In a new twist on a basketball game, Hope College recently participated in RecycleMania, a competition between college and university recycling programs to see which can produce the least amount of waste. The GameDay Challenge looks to keep out of the landfill as much waste as possible produced during a single sporting event.
The winner was environmental sustainability.
Abigail Jeavons, co-president of the Hope Advocates for Sustainability student group, began planning to introduce RecycleMania to Hope after noticing it was a common practice at many colleges that are highly ranked for environmental activism. She believed that the GameDay Challenge would be the best step to help educate the campus about where waste goes.
RecycleMania encourages colleges to measure and benchmark recycling activity to improve their programs over time. It aims to generate attention and support for campus recycling programs and to motivate students and staff to increase recycling efforts and reduce waste generation through a fair and friendly competition.
Hope College participated in RecycleMania during the last men’s home basketball game, on Feb. 17 against Albion College. Scattered throughout the concourse of DeVos Fieldhouse were waste-sorting stations manned by volunteers to help direct recyclables, compostable material, and landfill waste into the proper receptacles.
Thanks to the participation of the 3,324 fans and the sorting efforts of the volunteers, the total waste collected for the basketball game was a 2-cubic- yard dumpster of compostable material, five bags of recycling – and just one bag of waste to be sent to the landfill!
Over the past few years, the Hope College Dining Services has made a conscious effort to switch to biodegradable food containers for take-out foods. This includes but is not limited to items such as plates, napkins, cups and lids, eating utensils, and even straws.
“I noticed genuine interest from some (fans), as opposed to simply going through the motions because they had no other option. I specifically remember someone thanked us sincerely and told us that he usually brought his waste home to compost himself,” said Tyler Gargala, a senior Hope Advocate for Sustainability team member.
The success of the event stems from the collaborative efforts of Hope Advocates for Sustainability, Hope College Green Team, Hope College’s Physical Plant Department, Hope College Dining Services, as well as the college athletic department.
“I would love to see Hope as a campus become more involved in RecycleMania, not just the sustainability groups, but see the students across campus get excited about it,” Jeavons said. “We have the infrastructure there. It’s just a matter of connecting people and getting people to volunteer their time. I would love to see us move forward.”

To learn more about sustainability at Hope College visit
 Karen Frink is a junior at Hope College and intern at the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.