By Jacob Dottle, Environmental Caucus Communication Intern
Green games have been a trend sweeping collegiate athletics by a storm in the past decade, in an effort to greatly reduce the amount of waste that would normally enter landfills. Many people do not know that a large majority of the waste from these games can either be recycled or composted. Some of the colleges that are leading the way in green games are University of Boulder Colorado, Penn State, and Ohio State University.
Beth Vechinski, Associate Athletic Director explains the importance of the game, “NAU Athletics is proud to be partnering with the Office of Sustainability and Campus Dining for the first ever “Green Game”. The football game on October 31 will provide a great opportunity to share with our fans how the University and NAU Athletics is committed to creating a culture of sustainability. The volunteer team will once again be out in the parking lot at tailgate promoting and encouraging recycling and the concessions stands will be stocked with all compostable materials in order to minimize waste. There will be educational messages running during the game promoting the campus-wide programs and resources for existing sustainability initiatives.”
NAU started recycling at tailgates for the first time last year during home football games and has continued these efforts during this year’s games. In addition to continuing to recycle at these events Green NAU held its first Green Wine of the Year Contest. The Green Wine Contest is an effort to reduce the amount of glass that is brought to the tailgate events because NAU does not recycle glass. Also it is more environmentally friendly to use aluminum products compared to glass.
NAU has its first Green Game on October 31st (HallowGreen!) where we will not only be recycling during the tailgate party but also recycling and composting waste from inside the stadium. Our hopes are to drastically reduce the amount of materials that would be thrown away. It is important to have a green game because it will show that everyone as a whole can help to reduce the massive amounts of waste that we create. Also reducing the amount of materials thrown into landfills will also help NAU become a more sustainable and healthy campus.
The Green Jacks have been a big help with finding volunteers for the event. Dylan Lenzen, Chair of the Green Jacks says, “It will be a great opportunity to bring our message of sustainability to an audience that might not normally hear it. We can show people just one of the possibilities we have to make our campus a better place. As Green Jacks, we will be there to make sure the effort is a success. We also hope to make our club visible to all of campus.”
Catherine Sullivan, Dining Services Sustainability Coordinator, explained that, “The NAU HallowGreen Game is an important step in our campus goal to reduce waste generation on campus as well as partake in the EPA’s GameDay Recycling Challenge. We’re excited to see how this first game goes and how much waste we can divert with the help of our volunteers and support from Athletics and the Office of Sustainability. To reduce waste throughout the game, our concession stands will offer recyclable and compostable packaging for our refreshments and food items, along with bulk condiments. Within our Suites, reusable chinaware will be used to cut down on waste as well. A three bin system for recycling, compost, and landfill will be provided throughout the concourse with volunteers to help fans properly dispose of their waste.”
James Yurkovich, a NAU Eco-Rep, explained that, “I have volunteered at five tailgating events over the course of two years. I think volunteering, as a Tailgate Recycling Helper is a very rewarding job. I feel it’s rewarding because I know that I am properly educating people about where to place their recyclables, and I feel great when they come up to me and ask questions! It is also rewarding because I get to see how much recyclable waste is generated at these events when they are over.” The Eco-Reps have provided essential help at the events, if you live in a residence hall, talk to your Eco-Rep about getting involved.
The Green Game will depend on volunteers at stations to help educate people on what can be recycled or composted. We will need approximately 100 volunteers for this event and anyone who is interested in helping may contact Allyson Kenna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many universities across the nation participate is recycling events for their home football games. In 2011, Ohio State launched a bold initiative to move the fourth largest stadium in the country, Ohio Stadium, towards zero waste. The first season of Zero Waste at Ohio Stadium was a huge success. In 2011, trash sent to the landfill decreased by 61.2 percent, the diversion rate for the season increased 28.8 percentage points, and an 82.4 percent diversion rate was achieved. In recent years the events have been even more successful by diverting 95.2% of materials from Ohio Stadium.
Since 2008, Folsom Stadium at the University of Boulder Colorado has been converted to a Zero Waste venue during all home football games, making it the first Zero Waste collegiate sporting venue in the nation of its size. Since the stadium capacity is close to 50,000 people, this has been no small task and took the partnership of Athletics, Levy Restaurants, Facilities Management and the Environmental Center to make this program a success. In 2014 the stadium diverted 46,530 pounds of material that would have normally ended up in a landfill.
Penn State, with the second largest university stadium in the nation, has one of the largest recycling programs for their home football games. The stadium has a capacity of 107,282 people and even more people show up for the tailgate parties. With such large numbers of people attending these events, more than 100 tons of waste can be generated in a single day. Not only does the stadium drastically reduce the amount of waste that would end up in a landfill, but also saves money. It costs $70 to dispose of one ton of waste but it only costs $15 to dispose of 1 ton of bagged recycled goods.