Students in Free Enterprise won a grand prize worth $30,000 on Nov. 10 for its participation in the Dream Machine Recycling 101 Contest, a nationwide competition sponsored by PepsiCo Inc.
The group entered the drawing earlier this semester and, as a contest requirement, recycled more than 1,000 aluminum and plastic cans and bottles in the Dream Machine and hosted “Make a Scene,” a recycling awareness event held in the Hinton Center on Oct. 12.
For the “Make a Scene” event, members of SIFE spent all night on campus stringing together plastic bottles and hanging the recycled garland over the stair rails on the second floor of Hinton. They photographed the display the next day and sent it in to become official participants in the contest.
Senior Cindy Tran, SIFE president, said she was shocked when she heard the news. “Considering the fact that we are a small university, for us to win a national challenge is a really big deal,” she said.
The contest’s official rules state that one grand prize winner will receive a tailgate party sponsored by PepsiCo with products, catering, T-shirts and other accessories worth a total of $30,000.
SIFE plans to use the prize at the eco fair in Tranquility Park next semester. The Student Government Associations of many Houston universities, including HBU, will host the fair, with SIFE assisting SGA with promotion and labor.
“The whole point of the eco fair is to showcase businesses and companies that are eco-friendly,” Tran said.
SIFE also won the National Student Day competition hosted on campus by the University Bookstore, recycling more paper, plastic and aluminum products than any other group on campus.
The group hopes to demonstrate the importance of living in an eco-friendly environment to students and to provide the University community with more options for on-campus recycling through its Adopt-A-Bin and Dream Machine programs, collectively called the SIFE Recycling Initiative.
One component of the Recycling Initiative involves efforts to increase use of the Dream Machine, a computerized recycling bin created by PepsiCo Inc. that offers users an additional incentive to recycle.
To earn rewards, users create an account at the machine and use the scanning card they are issued to track the weight of plastic and aluminum products they deposit into the machine located in the Hinton Center.
Senior Liz Amaya, a member of SIFE’s recycling committee, said she believes the Recycling Initiative is something the University needed and added that although SIFE started recycling about two years ago by placing bins across campus, many people did not use them or simply ignored them.
“I think this year, with all that went on, people are starting to take notice to the recycling program here at HBU,” Amaya said.