Conspicuous Consumption, the Story of Stuff, and RecycleMania

Monday, January 17, 2011

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RecycleMania approacheth! Placing as Canada’s top university last year, with a total recycling rate of 52.78%, University of Ottawa is preparing for another successful year. The competition begins on January 15th and ends on March 27th, the first two weeks being “trial” weeks. Keep an eye out for events running around campus and get involved! Challenge a friend, roommate or even a residence floor in a waste-reduction and recycling contest. Take the winner(s) out for a beer (just make sure the bottle is recycled).

RecycleMania provides competition as a motivation to reduce waste and increase recycling efforts across campus and hopefully into student’s homes. It may be emphasized especially for this one part of the year but the habits should be practiced beyond the competition. Conspicuous
consumption is an obvious problem during the holiday season; malls are filled with people who cannot wait to spend money and buy gifts. And now that the joyous season is over, the story is one and the same; do we really need all this stuff?

It may be an ugly sweater that just is not quite your style, or a DVD you just have no desire to watch again, but where do you put it? If you are making room for your new toys you received over the break, or getting rid of the new things you just don’t want—don’t throw it out! Someone else may want it and you can donate it to the university’s free store.

This time of year is great: new beginnings, resolutions and instalments of student loans. However, this year may be the time to take into consideration where all your stuff is coming from. How these products are made and what environmental resources are being used in the process along with where they will end up when you are inevitably bored of them or they break. Check out “The Story of Stuff” if you want to get a basic grasp on what goes into making all these things you “have to have.”

Finally, motivated by RecycleMania and Brigitte Morin, the Waste Division and Recycling Coordinator, I am attempting to reduce my waste by more than half this year. Brigitte is going waste free for the entirety of RecycleMania and challenges YOU to join her! If you would like to volunteer some time to help with RecycleMania events you can contact Brigitte at

-merissa MUELLER

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