Two Wilkes students are hoping to change the world – one sheet of white office paper at a time.
The slogan for Recycling Metrics is “Reuse. Recycle. Win.” That’s exactly what Steven Adames and Hayden Lerner are hoping to do. Recycling Metrics is a competition between Wilkes and Kings to see who can collect the most used office paper.
But, the students have hit some snags is this goal. Limited funding from Student Government has presented a challenge for the program, which they feel is unjustified with the impact they hope to have on the community. But they aren’t letting that stop them.
Recycling metrics began as an independent study with Adames and taught by environmental engineering professor Marleen Troy.
Adames, a senior environmental engineering, said he thought the competition aspect would attract more interest.
“I came up with the idea to do a competition because I wanted to get the students involved,” Adames said.
Adames then explained his idea to Lerner, who is his roommate. Even though Lerner is a senior psychology with no concentration in environmental issues, he was immediately was compelled by the cause.
“He pitched me the idea and I said that would be awesome, that would be great for the community,” Lerner said.
The program challenges students to collect white office paper to be recycled. Adames chose paper as the focus because it brings in the most money. It can produce $60 to $90 a ton when recycled. The funds raised from Recycling Metrics will go to an undetermined organization that helps the community.
Lerner said the competition will improve the campus overall, because it will put students in a recycling mindset.
“I think it’s going to clean up our school,” Lerner said. “Even though it’s just office paper, it raises awareness. Once kids start talking about it, they won’t just be throwing things in the same container.”
To help fund the competition, the students requested funds from SG. They asked for $500 to pay for T-shirts that they planned to sell as their main fundraiser. But, SG only allotted $150 to Recycling Metrics, which Lerner said would only pay for about 18 shirts.
Lerner said the decreased fund allocation showed that SG didn’t take the cause seriously.
“We felt like it was a slap in the face, like they thought it was a joke,” Lerner said.
He said SG gave out money to groups that would only have an impact on a select amount of students, whereas Recycling Metrics could have an influence on the whole community.
“We sat there while they gave away thousands of dollars to clubs that have no impact on the community,” Lerner said.
He also said SG did not offer an explanation for the fund reduction.
But, with contributions from Dean Dale Bruns of the College of Science and Engineering, the competition is still on. It will continue until Friday, April 26, when there will be a final party to announce the winner. So far, Wilkes is ahead in the race to collect the most paper.
Ultimately, this paper is not ending up in a landfill. Adames said this is helping solve a global problem.
“We need to find a way to take care of waste,” Adames said. “If we do, it can save money and save the world.”
Adames said he hopes the event continues even after he and Lerner graduate this May.
“We don’t want this to be one and done,” Adames said. “We may be leaving, but I would love for students to take initiative and continue this.”