University of South Carolina: Eco-Olympics

Three-time RecycleMania participant USC does a variety of activities, including an Olympics-inspired event, to get students excited about RecycleMania. Here are some highlights of what they've done to make RecycleMania fun. 

A student competes in the bottle toss event, narrowly missing the bin! 

Volunteers borrowed costumes from the Dept. of Health and Environmental Control to help recruit athletes, and tried out the obstacle course

1. Recycl-ympics

  • What: Students compete in six events, including phone book shotput, a recycling bin obstacle course, and new for this year: a wrapping paper tube javelin throw. The team is also ramping up the Olympics theme with Greek column decorations and catered Mediterranean food for the "athletes!" The state environmental agency lends out the "Recycle Guys" mascot costumes so that volunteers can don the suits and get students' attention. 
  • How: Volunteers help track the top three leaders in each of the six categories, and collect contact information so that winners can be reached to receive their prizes. This year, Recycling Coordinator Larry Cook worked with local businesses to get about half of all prizes as in-kind donations. He also happened to stumble upon a pair of Greek columns on the side of the road, which he repainted and "recycled" for the event! 
  • Lessons Learned: Sustainability Coordinator Margaret Bounds found in past years that its best to have people join events spontaneously rather than sign up in advance. She was also pleasantly surprised to see how many students got their pictures taken with the Recycle Guys!

​Download RecycleMania's Recycl-ympics activity guide here. 

A rolling white board made it easy to track leaders for each event. Plus, a banner rallied school spirit by encouraging students to beat their rival.

2. Get Caught Green-Handed + a Flash Mob

  • What they did: Student volunteers gave out small prizes to recyclers in residence halls and around campus. They also rallied a flash mob of 50 people to cheer when someone came by and recycled the bottle they had planted near the bin. This person's good deed was rewarded with a reusable mug or other small prize. 
  • How: USC Eco-Reps gave out small prizes for recycling in residence halls. For the flash mob, the team got their core volunteers together but also created a Facebook group to recruit more people. Finally, they used hats as an incentive and a way to look like a cohesive unit when they jumped up and cheered. 
  • Lessons Learned: The USC team was able to recruit almost half their volunteers for the flash mob "on the fly" by offering free hats. 

Download RecycleMania's Recycl-ympics activity guide here. 

3. Marketing

  • What: Table Tents in dining halls and library, signs on bulletin boards, posters, banner, and digital advertisements in residence halls. 
  • How: Contacted dining services, library desk, and residence hall marketing team for templates and permissions.
  • Lessons Learned: Table tents worked better in the library than in the dining hall because they did not have to endure spilled drinks!