January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 29°F


Students limit game day waste

From left, sophomore Mariana Garces and freshman Steven Rosenberger pick up trash recycle trash following the Oct. 30 football game against Utica. GRAHAM HEBEL/THE ITHACAN

The efforts were part of the Game Day Challenge, a contest sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency, an organization that aims to increase recycling and composting on college campuses around the nation.

Eighty-seven colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale and Syracuse universities, participated in the challenge.

Paula Turkon, assistant professor of anthropology, had students in her Principles and Practices of Sustainability course participate.

Five weeks ago, Turkon’s class attended the Bombers’ game against Hartwick College to survey the expected waste generated at football games and come up with a reachable goal.

Mark Darling, sustainability programs coordinator, said the group weighed all waste, recycling and compost after the Hartwick game. Of the materials weighed, 67 percent was classified as waste. Darling said he had hoped for a lower 50 percent at Saturday’s game, but the amount of waste came out to 60 percent.

Out of the 193.5 pounds of garbage collected Saturday, about 55.2 pounds were separated to recyclables and compostables. These statistics will be sent to the EPA for a chance to win the title of “Most Sustainable College in the Nation.”

The EPA will award first place to the college with the highest percent of waste reduction within five categories: diversion rate, waste generation per capita, gross reductions through waste reduction, recycling and composting. Results from all participating schools will be posted on the EPA website later this month.

At Saturday’s game, more than a dozen students from Turkon’s class volunteered to help direct students through the process. Students wore fluorescent green shirts and guided people to recycling and composting bins located throughout the stadium.

During the game, junior Ali Zieba, one of Turkon’s students, said there was a positive reaction to their efforts from the crowd.

“We’ve been trying to help to make it as easy as possible,” Zieba said. “People got a little confused at first.”

Freshmen Mercedes Van der Gaag and Katy Newton were in charge of distributing college shirts and Purity Ice Cream coupons as prizes to people who recycled.

Newton said while manning the prizes desk, there were many parents visiting for Family Weekend who approached saying they were proud of the college’s sustainable efforts.Van der Gaag said students were also receptive to the class’ efforts.

“Someone even came up and took a picture with us and our green shirts,” she said. “They were really happy that Ithaca is doing this sustainable initiative.”

Turkon said her class was able to create an efficient strategy that other organizations could use as a fundraiser. All the materials are readily available to any club that wishes to improve the environment while raising money by keeping the recyclables, she said.

Though the college did not achieve its goal of 50 percent waste this time around, Turkon said the percentage will lower as students gain more experience working at the games.

“We hope that this was the first of many events like this which will lead to it becoming a part of all athletic events,” she said. “The next step will be to pass this report along with the T-shirts, strategies and signs onto the next group to take it on.”