Black Hills State University students in the Environmental Sustainability Student Organization volunteered for the Throw Back &ndash Don&rsquot Throw Away event during the Feb. 13 men&rsquos basketball game at BHSU. Throw Back &ndash Don&rsquot Throw Away is part of the nationwide Recycle Mania program, a competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction to their campus community.
Black Hills State University collected more than 200 pounds of recyclable material during the Throw Back &ndash Don&rsquot Throw Away event during the Feb. 13 men&rsquos basketball game.
The BHSU athletics department and sustainability office partnered for the second annual Throw Back &ndash Don&rsquot Throw Away event that strives toward eliminating waste from local landfills. Students volunteered throughout the night educating the public and guiding them in separating trash into the correct bins.
A total of 212 pounds of waste was collected, with 87 percent of the waste diverted from the local landfill, an increase from 2014 when 77 percent of the total collected waste was diverted. This year&rsquos waste collection included 83 pounds of plastic and aluminum, 81 pounds of compost, 21 pounds of cardboard and 27 pounds of landfill trash.
Katie Greer, sustainability coordinator at BHSU, said the game-day event was an excellent opportunity to educate a larger audience on sustainable practices.
"We were able to reach a large group of people in the community that typically attend BHSU events," Greer said. "We wanted to promote awareness that we can divert the amount of waste sent to a landfill if we all just work together."
Throw Back &ndash Don&rsquot Throw Away is part of the nationwide Recycle Mania program, a competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction to their campus community. This is the first year BHSU has taken part in the two-month contest. Once a week for eight weeks, participating universities will track and report the amount of recyclables collected. Schools will be ranked in various categories, including who recycles the most per capita and which schools have the best recycling rate. The contest concludes at the end of March.
Greer said she hopes that participating in Recycle Mania will motivate others to increase sustainable practices at the University and in the community. The Environmental Sustainability Student Organization (ESSO), a new sustainability club on campus, is helping with Recycle Mania.
"People at the game were very supportive of our efforts," said Megan Brink, human services major from Rapid City, and a member of ESSO. "Not only were they gaining knowledge of what items can be recycled, we were also contributing to the overall education of recycling and sustainable practices."
To coincide with Recycle Mania, the ESSO and Sting are surprising students who are "Caught Green-Handed" recycling and initiating other sustainable practices. The students are featured on the BHSU Sustainability Facebook page.
"If each person recycled just one item a day, it would make a huge impact on the environment," Brink said.
Greer said BHSU is a statewide leader of sustainability. BHSU was awarded the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) Sustainability Award, which recognized BHSU&rsquos advancements in sustainability efforts and educational facilities. The student union and science lab are Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certified and is enrolled in the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program to measure success in sustainable efforts.
The University was awarded a STARS silver rating by the Association for the Advancement of Higher Education and BHSU dining services The Hive and The Buzz Shack were given a 2-Star Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).