UT Recycling and Up to Us has beaten a world record.
Besting last year's record of 4,123 boxes set by the University of Texas-Austin, UT's box fort topped out at 4,800 boxes while promoting environmental and financial sustainability.
Up to Us used the event, sponsored by Net Impact, to demonstrate the size of the national debt through the visualization the boxes created. Kayla McMurry, senior in economics, explained how Up to Us' message of "fiscal sustainability" relates to Net Impact's message of "global sustainability."
"Fiscal sustainability is just as important as environmental sustainability," McMurry said. "We're just trying to raise awareness. Most people know what 'Making Orange Green' is, but they may not know what lowering the deficit and lowering the debt is."
Bea Ross, UT Recycling Outreach coordinator, stressed that while the boxes were collected in one month, the collection was "about the equivalent of about four days of cardboard on UT campus."
"We're trying to raise awareness for not only the increasing national debt, but also how we as a university can raise our own financial status by decreasing our 'needs' and finding more sustainable ways to do things here at the university," Ross said.
Promoting more than just environmental responsibility, Ross said she believes all forms of sustainability are essential to overall workability.
"Our main goal here is to really push how developing a sustainable community will not only help us grow socially, it will help us grow financially and help our environmental impact," Ross said. "Those are three things that really can't be separated."
The boxes, Ross said, represented consumerism effects of both the university's and individuals' purchasing habits. She said she believes that smarter shopping could help both the environment and the economy.
"If we shop smarter, our economy is going to grow," Ross said. "I'm really trying to show students how their personal waste reduction can help our society grow. It all starts with us."
Jesse Farber-Eger, freshman in sociology, came to the fort after hearing about the event through a variety of clubs he works with. Following the conclusion of his classes, Farber-Eger went to work contributing to the event's sustainable message.
"We're reusing materials that would have been just thrown away or left," Farber-Eger said. "We're doing the step before recycling, which is reusing it to create this symbol of our university. I think in doing so, we're spreading that message of reduce, reuse, recycle and being sustainable and making something of what we have. It's a good thing."
Travis Stockinger, a freshman in physics, also stopped by after his last class and left briefly for lunch before coming back. While he appreciated the messages of financial and environmental stability the fort worked to send, he said he had another purpose for joining the event.
"The reason I came here was because, I don't know if you watch Community, but they have a pillow fort," Stockinger said. "So, this how I'm trying to do that."