This Valentine’s season, the UT Office of Sustainability is encouraging students to make earth-friendly valentines for their loved ones and friends. The office hosted a ‘create your own’ sustainable valentine event in Hodges Library on Thursday. The office also utilized the event as a time to inform students on how UT is striving to become a top recycling school.

The Office of Sustainability is participating in a program called RecycleMania, which is a nationwide competition between schools. The competition involves analyzing which school can increase their recycling rates the most, but also observing reducing trash rates.

The Office of Sustainability decided to incorporate this program into UT through residence halls here on campus. The program now lies as a competition between dorm halls on campus on who can recycle the most.

The Office of Sustainability also has implemented pop-up shops and events throughout the month of February, seeing as the residence hall recycle race began this month. Students who reside in dorms receive extra points for their hall if they attend the RecycleMania events.

The Office of Sustainability has made it their mission to increase student involvement and awareness of how important environmental issues are. In addition to RecycleMania, UT has also recently committed to become a zero waste institution. On its way to reaching this goal, UT hopes to reduce half of its landfill waste by 2030.

At Thursday’s event, students made sustainable valentines by using cut up magazines, newspapers and left over supplies from the event’s hosts. By reusing paper and magazine clips, the Office of Sustainability encouraged students to reuse and save paper. The office also handed out “buy one, get one free” coupons for cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes with every valentine made.

Leah Fontaine, the outreach coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, explained why February was important to Recyclemania and how Valentine’s Day was incorporated into the competition.

“What made us decide to do this was RecycleMania being in February, and we love to incorporate holidays in, so of course we had to do something for Valentine’s Day. One thing we have been doing is posting sustainable pick-up lines on our social medias for the past two weeks. We wanted to show people they can be creative in recycling,” Fontaine said.

Kiara Finch, a student member from the Office of Sustainability, discussed what measures the office is taking in order to increase student involvement.

“If you go to our website, sustainability.utk.edu, you can find different volunteer opportunities and how to get involved on campus to make orange green again…” Finch said.

So, whether you’re trying to get involved with campus sustainability or making an eco-friendly valentine this holiday season, the Office of Sustainability has options for you.

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