For the past seven years, OSU’s Waste Watchers has gathered discarded reusable materials and created a sculpture to kick off the annual RecycleMania competition.
This year, the student group decided to build a small set of furniture using mainly plastic items, featuring: a chair and stool made from plastic beverage bottles; a coffee table that consists of an old storage container, plastic bottles and a piece of scrap metal plastic; and a television made from a broken computer monitor with scrap metal antennae.
The Waste Watchers group, run jointly by Campus Recycling and the Student Sustainability Initiative, came up with the idea during one of their weekly meetings. The construction was primarily led by volunteer Vanessa Ellsworth, with help from other volunteers. It was designed to be easily disassembled and all the materials recycled.
As the project lead, Ellsworth said she anticipates humor from the way the group has decided to symbolize their demonstration. She wants the sculpture to send a subtle message to the students.
“We are excited to bring awareness to the students that attend Oregon State University and creative ideas that can be constructed from common recyclables,” said Ellsworth.
Andrea Norris, marketing and development coordinator for campus recycling and the co-coordinator of Waste Watchers, is happy with how the project turned out. She noted that the design changes every year, from a sea monster made primarily from CDS to a styrofoam igloo to a trio of jellyfish from scrap soft plastic.
“Each year I wonder what the group will come up with and how we’ll pull it off. It always works out and is so cool to see come to fruition,” said Norris. “I also get satisfaction from engaging in marketing that’s a little different… it’s not every day that you see a scrap sculpture appear in the quad.”
The team has noticed people slowing down to check it out as they walk through the quad. One Waste Watcher member, the Program Assistant for Campus Recycling Shannon Ritz, added her thoughts.
“I’ve heard largely positive things about the sculpture from my friends. They noted the creativity that went into making it and also found its oddness to be rather comical.”
The scrap sculpture display is one of the many RecycleMania events. The annual RecycleMania competition challenges U.S. college and university recycling programs to obtain the highest recycling numbers. OSU participates in the RecycleMania Civil War against UO to see which university can produce the highest per capita weight for recycling and compost combined. The winner gets to keep a trophy made of all reused materials that was assembled by a UO student.
The Beavers were champions for the first three years until UO broke the record in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, OSU reclaimed the trophy, but UO won again in 2016. This year’s 8-week competition runs from February 5th to April 1st, with activities offered throughout.