TACOMA, Wash. – College students will build a giant “cardboard castle” out of old packing boxes to create University of Puget Sound’s first-ever entry in a hotly contested, nationwide recycling contest.
Recyclemania, a nonprofit run by universities, challenges colleges and universities across the country to see who can build the largest structure out of used boxes, tape, and sheer imagination. The annual contest, which has taken on a life of its own in recent years, aims to raise awareness about waste reduction on campuses.
Over the years it has attracted entries from universities including Harvard; Brigham Young; Duke; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and University of Texas at Austin.Puget Sound is the first small school to enter the fray.
Puget Sound students (and anyone else who wants to help) will gather from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 25, in Brown Family Courtyard, next to Oppenheimer Café, in the quad between Thompson and Harned halls to create the castle—complete with cardboard-tube turrets, bastions, gateways, and whatever else the novice architects dream up. If rain is forecast, the event will be moved a day or two earlier during Earth Week (April 21–25). See below for details.
Sustainability Services and Loggers Live Green, co-sponsors of the event, are collecting, breaking down, and saving food, office supplies, equipment, and other boxes from all over campus. They expect to have about 1,700 boxes by the big day.
“The purpose of building a box castle is to illustrate just how many boxes we accumulate on campus,” said Travis Freidman ’11, Puget Sound sustainability and energy manager. “We don’t have an explicit architectural plan, but a couple of students are taking the lead on the design. We’ve been collecting and flattening boxes since early March and we’ve got a room filled with them. The stack is taller than me.”
Student organizers Liana Hardcastle ’14 and Hannah Maurer ’14 are inviting all campus members to come and tape up a few boxes, decorate them, and sign your name. The final structure is expected to be about 30 feet square by 7 feet tall and will almost fill Brown Family Courtyard. Construction could take up until 5 p.m., when, after the taking of photographs and videos, students will tear it all down again. The boxes will be offered to students moving out for the summer before they are recycled.
The current world record for a box structure is being claimed by Brigham Young University, which has just completed a cardboard fort using 5,086 boxes. The contest entries have inflated exponentially in size. Little more than two years ago, Harvard University held the world record with a structure made from just 566 boxes. Photos of Brigham Young’s latest effort and other zany box contests are available here: recordsetter.com/world-record/cardboard-fort/35654.
Although Puget Sound may not be able to claim the box-castle crown, the college has hopes for other prize categories in the Recyclemania contest. These include awards for whichever school: recycles the most waste on a per capita basis; has the best recycling rate as a percentage of total waste; and generates the lowest amount of combined trash and recycling. Contestants collect their statistics over an eight-week period.
Those planning to participate in the box castle construction are encouraged to watch for updates on the Loggers Live Green Facebook page: facebook.com/events/640381629343270/?ref=5 . A recruitment video to inspire volunteers is also available for viewing on the page.