The numbers are in, the calculators have done the math and results are now official. RecycleMania 2014 has been a grand success! Here are the highlights:

Antioch University Seattle seized the Grand Champion title with an unparalleled 93% recycling rate! The University lived up to its Commitment to Sustainability by increasing their final recycling rate by 10 percentage points over last year. The secret to their success: beyond having a first rate recycling and recovery program, the school of less than 700 students arranged this year to sort the remaining trash during the term of the competition.

Meanwhile, Kalamazoo College took home both the Per Capita Classic and the Bottles and Cans division wins. Their top rankings return the “K” College Hornets to their winning ways, after taking the Bottles and Cans prize in 2009 and 2010.

Six-time winner of the Gorilla prize, Rutgers University, extended their streak in 2014, The Scarlet-Knights narrowly held off the Duke Blue Devils with a total of 1,183,000 pounds of cardboard, paper and bottles and cans recycling during the spring tournament. With Antioch University Seattle, North Lake College, and Valencia Community College all vying for Waste Minimization victory, it took a combination of RecycleMania experience and innovative thinking to secure Valencia their third-straight win. Their efforts to go paperless by switching to electronic media and centralized waste collection bins paid off.

The Westfield State Nestors proved the fourth time’s a charm with their first-ever victory in the Paper category. After three years in the top ten, and a second-place finish last year, The Nestors perseverance got them the gold!

Eager to restore their 2012 title, Bard College composted their way to the top of the heap claiming the Food Service Organics title with an impressive 28,521 pounds collected!

Last year, the U.S. Military Academy missed the cardboard category prize by just .27 pounds. This year, the West Point Black Nights put their four years of RecycleMania experience to work and collected 27.59 pounds of cardboard per capita to win the category!

Keep Clark County Beautiful

Keep Clark County Beautiful volunteers cleaned up over a mile of the Simon Kenton multi-use trail in Springfield, Ohio, on Saturday, April 12. They picked up 25 bags of litter and a dumped tire. Volunteers also removed unsightly tagging from a bridge over the trail. Here, volunteers Kathleen Jedreski and Ryan Peterkoski knock out graffiti.

Keep Broward Beautiful, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Keep Broward Beautiful along with The Natural Resources Planning and Management Division, The Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA) and Florida Park Service formed a partnership to conduct the John U. Lloyd Beach State Park Dune Restoration Project. The goal of the project was to educate the community about impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, beach erosion and habitat change, and engage the community to take steps to mitigate these impacts by undertaking and supporting dune restoration projects.

To undertake this project, student volunteers were recruited from Embassy Creek Elementary School’s SOLAR club, or Students for Outdoor Learning, Adventure and Responsibility and the Yellow Wood Learning Center, an alternative Montessori-Based High School. Corporate and civic volunteers were recruited from employees and their families of Waste Management Inc., Kohl’s Department Store, Best Buy, Inc., Allstate Resource Management, Inc., Broward County and the Florida Park Service.

Volunteers received educational presentations about the impacts of climate change, beach erosion, beach and dune ecology and the correct methods in planting dune vegetation. Broward County staff, YEA and the State Park Service worked with the volunteers to prepare and fence off the sites to be restored. Over the course of 3 events held in November and December 2013 and January 2014, volunteers then planted over 5,000 sea, as an effective method to mitigate future beach erosion. Additionally, more than 1000 native dune plants, including Bay Cedar, Beach Creeper, Beach Elder, Beach Sunflower, Beach Verbena, Inkberry, Railroad Vine, Sea Lavender, Sea Oxeye Daisy, Sea Purslane, Wild Allamanda, Wild Sage and Sea Grape trees were planted in the mid and back dune in order to diversify the plant community and improve ecological function of the dune habitat within the park.

The project demonstrates the power of partnership and community engagement in the cleanup and restoration of sand dunes in John U. Lloyd Beach State Park. The involvement of community youth has fostered a sense of personal accomplishment and raised awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship.

Corporate, public, and nonprofit partnerships have been solidified as a result of this project, building a model and formula for success moving forward. As a result, YEA has developed additional partnerships with other coastal municipalities to conduct new community education and volunteer based dune restoration projects in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

Delta County Colorado Residents Keep Recycling Program Up and Running

Three years ago, the North Fork Recycling Center in Delta County, Colorado started out as just a test. Residents had to prove that recycling was a priority in order to keep the recycling center running, and with the volume of recycling continuing to grow and more than doubling in 2013, it is clear they have passed with flying colors.

According to Rachel Leonard, Manager of Double J Disposal that services the recycling center, “We were collecting recycling … every other week in early 2013, and now they fill up and need to be emptied at least once every week to prevent overflow.” In fact, last year, Delta County residents recycled a total of 307 tons of recyclables at the North Fork Recycling Center.

But recycling wasn’t the only way residents of Delta County showed their support for the program. Around one hundred of them, from school children to business owners, made sure their voice was heard by writing to the County Commission about the success of the program in honor America Recycles Day 2013.

“By Keeping recycling local, we’re supporting local companies and keeping jobs in the County.” wrote Nathan Sponseller, President of the Hotchkiss Chamber of Commerce “While Recycling options in Delta County are limited, they are headed in the right direction due, in large part, to the hard work of concerned citizens.”

Businesses and schools are also helping to make recycling the norm. As of April, four schools in Delta County and two libraries have launched curbside recycling pickup programs, and two prominent businesses in the region recently expanded their recycling programs.

Joanna Calabrese, member of a local recycling committee, notes that the success has been due to the entire community’s effort “Over the past year countless residents and businesses have called about joining our Volunteer Recycling Committee…Recycling is already a strong value in Western Colorado.”

Keep Clark County Beautiful

Keep Clark County Beautiful is helping the National Trail Parks and Recreation District in Springfield, Ohio, to build an educational nature trail for urban youth to learn about local wildlife, and this weekend, they completed the first leg of the trail! Volunteers cleared 38 bags of litter, 20 dumped tires, and hundreds of pounds of dumped plywood while cutting through brush, removing vines and honeysuckle, and preparing the brand new trail for its signage.

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful had a great day this past Saturday at 7th Annual Philly Spring Cleanup!

We partnered with the Eagles Youth Partnership, The Dow Chemical Company, and our friends at Keep America Beautiful to paint, remove graffiti, and clean up five vacant lots around Gideon School in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood. (Check out pictures:!) Gideon took part in the Eagles Youth Partnership’s Playground Build Program ten years ago, and we were thrilled to be a part of keeping the playground clean and green.

Our many, many thanks to the Eagles Youth Partnership, Gideon School, Keep America Beautiful, and the Philadelphia Streets Department – and to Mayor Michael Nutter for starting his day with us!

We also want to extend our many, many thanks to Dow Chemical and McCormick Paints for their generous donation of 1000 gallons of paint to the Philly Spring Cleanup effort!

Keep Highway Park Beautiful – Rescuing a Resting Place

Volunteers from the Interact Club consisting of students from Lake Placid High School and Lake Placid Middle School under the guidance of Deputy Michael Brod joined the Keep Highway Park Beautiful Commission, the Highway Park Neighborhood Council and local volunteers to clear brush and overgrowth from the historic Highway Park Cemetery.

Almost unreadable headstones lay broken, toppled and overgrown by weeds. Large trees with deep roots are shifting monuments and toppling other headstones. “Each of those stones has an interesting story to it and it is important to maintain that piece of our town’s history. We must not let it be buried, literally, again,” said Evelyn Colon, executive director of the Highway Park Neighborhood Council, in appeals to the community to help restore the cemetery.

Over 15 volunteers, most from within the Highway Park Community, came to help with this cleanup. Debris, shrubbery and trash filled 29 over-sized garbage bags. The 20-foot flagpole holding the U.S. flag, which had been damaged in a storm, was removed to be replaced in the very near future. Loose stones were picked up, grass was mowed, weeds trimmed away from the graves, and trees were trimmed.

Unincorporated towns with no budgets have often had little to no money to improve their cemeteries, leading to disrepair, crumbling gravestones, overgrown grass, persistent weeds, and no irrigation to sustain flowers or grass. This cleanup is one of many planned activities to restore the Highway Park Cemetery. It is hoped that with this and subsequent efforts, the cemetery will be better preserved to include historic signage and fencing.

The Highway Park Neighborhood Council, Keep Highway Park Beautiful and the Highway Park Ministerial Alliance are working together to beautify and restore dignity to our cemetery. Donations are welcome. For more information or to volunteer, please call Tiffany Green, HPNG president, at 863-840-2995.

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission (ANHC) hosted their first Great American Cleanup event on March 22. Six volunteers and two staff members removed more than 350 tires from the Terre Noire Natural Area in Southwest Arkansas! The ANHC partnered with a local tire recycling company to ensure the tires did not make their way to a landfill. Thank you, ANHC!