by Maren Johnson
On Saturday mornings in the fall, the turn-off to Brakefield Road is lined with cars in both directions. Fans dressed in their best attire slowly make their way to the stadium, stopping to chat with old friends as they go. Many of these fans will make their way down to Housing Sewanee’s Concession Stand, and some have brought their own drinks. Where is this plastic and aluminum going?
The Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability has taken an interest this year in addressing the lack of recycling. Rachel Petropoulos, the Office’s Program Coordinator, said, “Moving items out of the waste stream into the recycling stream is a very fundamental goal for our campus. The Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability is here to facilitate that goal being met. And while it is simple in many ways, there are many situations that require extra attention to be successful in that goal. Large-scale events are one such situation.” Football is just the starting point.
If you went to the last game, you may have noticed the new recycling bins. You may have also noticed the volunteers that were sitting behind them, in the stands, and checking on each bin throughout the game. “The key ingredient will always be some “boots on the ground” volunteers – putting bins out early enough, watching for overflow during the game, and collecting afterwards. We had a strong showing of volunteers this last Saturday – we hope to keep them engaged for the final games,” said Petropoulos. Student volunteers received shirts reading. “RESPECT YOUR MOTHER” and will continue to do so at future events. This recycling program addresses several goals in the University’s Sustainability Master Plan, a list of goals that will make our campus more sustainable. They include: improving the effectiveness of campus recycling, establishing and maintaining appropriate and adequate recycling bins at campus buildings and grounds, and updating guidelines for recycling and continuing education efforts on recycling expectations for campus groups, departments, and individuals.
After the game, the volunteers sorted cans and plastics and bagged them in special blue bags that are more easily recycled. Petropoulos explained, “The grounds crew does a great job of setting up and cleaning up so our fields are welcoming to our fans. We trust the separated blue bags will not add an extra burden but a small additional step in bag placement. We will move the bags to collection points on campus for now and will do some weighing of recovered materials. This first week was our trial run, and the cool weather kept things manageable!”
Once sorted, there were only a couple bags with a few cans or bottles in each. Hopefully at the next game there will be more participation by the fans in this new program. Between now and then remember: Respect Your Mother!