In the spirit of beating the Florida Gators, UT students gathered Tuesday at the amphitheater outside the Humanities and Social Sciences Building to participate in the "Recyclympics," an event to raise recycling awareness.

Held in conjunction with UT's participation in the "Recyclemania" inter-collegiate competition, the "Recyclympics" have been an annual occurrence for four years. Kaitlyn Yoder, assistant recycling coordinator at Make Orange Green, said UT is the only school that does it.

"Jay Price started the Recyclympics over four years ago, so he is really the mastermind behind the whole event," Yoder explained.

Price became the environmental coordinator at Make Orange Green in 2004 and has led the university in numerous endeavors to reduce waste and bolster sustainability. In 2008, he came up with the "Recyclympics" event in hopes of getting students excited about recycling.

"I had heard of ... green game(s) happening on other campuses, so that's basically where I got the idea from," Price said. "But the events themselves me and my staff made up."

He acknowledged that the "Recyclympics" may not immediately reduce waste but maintained it would prove itself in the long run.

"My thought is, the biggest reason people don't recycle is because they just don't think about it, so this event is just another way to remind them," Price said. "I think that the involvement, getting students to both participate and volunteer, is what will help and resonate.

"I mean, who's not going to have fun going through an obstacle course, and throwing a phone book and throwing some plastic bottles at stuff? It is just fun, but at least it's getting them to think about it a little bit."

Price explained that recycling awareness is especially key during this semester's "Recyclemania" tournament.

"We're competing against five hundred other schools to see who can recycle the most and throw away the least, so we kind of want to draw attention to recycling in general at this time," he said. "And this is the most fun way we have found to do this so far."

The eight-week long competition is currently in its fifth week. At the end of the fourth week, Price said UT students were recycling at a rate of 4.4 pounds per person, edged slightly by Florida's rate of 5.3 pounds per person.

"We've got ... less than one pound per person that we've got to make up ... to beat Florida," Price said.

Price is not the only one keen on beating Florida.

"I'm feeling pretty competitive now, so I have to get more of my friends involved too," Leanna Sanders, junior in elementary education, said.

Sanders had stopped by the Sigma Sigma Rho domestic violence awareness display on Pedestrian Walkway when she saw the colorful inflatables of the "Recyclympics" and decided to check it out.

"This event is actually a whole lot more fun than I thought it would be. ... It's making me think about recycling a lot more than when I woke up this morning," Sanders said. "I played the mouse ball game, and now the cap in the hay stack, but what I'm really looking forward to is the bouncing obstacle course."

Price said UT has planned a few more events for the last three weeks of the "Recyclemania" tournament. Whether UT can catch Florida in the rankings remains to be seen, but Price pointed out the far-reaching benefits of developing sustainable habits now.

"It's one of the reasons we come to college, right? To learn, to get better habits ... hopefully people will develop those habits and use them to make the world a better place," Price said.