There's a different kind of RecycleMania rivalry brewing on campuses across the country. For the past few years, Brigham Young University, Harvard, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas among other campuses have been competing to see who can build the largest structure out of cardboard boxes and tape. Not only that, but they are keeping official tabs on who holds the title on RecordSetter.com, a site that allows anyone with a video camera to set a world record, as long as it's documented.
The Story of the Cardboard Box Fort Competition
The rivalry began when four young men in Utah set the world record for "cardboard box fort," and submitted their video proof to RecordSetter.com. Meanwhile, a Harvard student with a penchant for record-setting stumbled upon the original box fort and set out to beat the record. Laura D'Asano employed custodians, dormmates, and a building manager to help save boxes until she had enough to break the record.
A Rivarly is Born
BYU's Bill Rudy set out to break Harvard's record. When Rudy and his team succeeded, they found out that the original record-setters in Utah had been BYU students themselves! After that, UNLV jumped in and broke the record until Laura and her fellow Crimsons struck back to set a new record. Since then Duke University and UT Austin have have joined the fun, taking this competition to new heights!
- Watch a video of BYU's castle being constructed in March 2013
- The University of Texas, Austin built an impressive structure in true Longhorn style.
Current Record-holder: University of Tennessee, Knoxville
As part of their ninth straight year participating in RecycleMania, recycling manager Jay Price and the UT Knoxville team created “Fort Box” to raise awareness about waste reduction and recycling in February 2014. The team battled blustery wind that blew down each wall of their fort at least once, but with a little help from recycled-content tape and a lot of elbow grease, they succeeded in building an 80 x 742 x 7 ft tall structure made from a record-breaking 4,822 boxes!
Tips on Building Your Own
Whether or not you think you can take the heat of this competition, the concept of building a giant structure from recyclable cardboard boxes is a novel way to turn heads in the name of RecycleMania. Here are a few tips for making your project sustainable, and getting your campus involved:
1. Use them again (and again). Seek out used boxes for the project. Harvard times their box-building with move-in, which is when they have found that they can recover the most boxes. They then store them to be used in the move-out box sale.
2. Involve the community.
- Tara Pike at UNLV works with an architecture class to design and build the box castle. This adds an element of complexity to UNLV's structures. Pike noted that students do not recieve extra credit for breaking the world record, but that it is something to consider!
- This year, the UNLV team will unveil their structure at a campus event combining two UNLV traditions, Festival of Communities and GreenFest. The event will occur on Earth Day.
- At Harvard, the team invited students to pose for a photo pointing to their own move-in box in the structure.
- Harvard's Environmental Action Committee breaks down the boxes post-build, then sells them in their annual move-out box fundraiser.