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Iowa football ready to go green

BY KELSEY L JOHNSON | AUGUST 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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Kinnick Stadium is going to look a bit greener this semester, and not because of any thunderstorm.

The University of Iowa Office of Sustainability has teamed up with the Athletics Department, ECO Hawk student organization, and Delta Tau Delta fraternity to begin an incentive that will allow Hawkeye fans to recycle their tailgating and concession trash.

Recycling stations will be placed at the gates of Kinnick Stadium for tailgating materials and inside for concession waste. These stations will be operated by volunteers who will help during the first or second half of each game. In addition to help from City High students, volunteers will also have the opportunity to help sort the recycling and waste at the end of games.

Brion Hurley, who took the initiative to push for recycling at football games, said it’s important to have volunteers present at the stations not only to help sort the materials, but also to thank fans for their contribution. Hurley hopes to reduce and ultimately eliminate trash left in the stadium after games.

Recycling stations were set up during spring sporting events as a trial run for the larger scale effort that will be in place this fall.

“People were generally receptive to the idea,” Hurley said, an official in the Office of Sustainability. “By the end of the trial run, people were happy to recycle, and they began questioning leaving trash on their seats.”

Officials were unable to provide any costs for the initiative as of Sunday evening.

Past efforts to recycle at football games have only amounted to a moderate level of success.

“This will be the first comprehensive program that really encourages fans to recycle,” said Bailee McClellan, the president of ECO Hawk.

ECO Hawk will also help coordinate volunteers to stand by the recycling stations during games. The group will also show a video during halftime that encourages and informs fans about the new recycling stations. The hope is that the volunteers, positive encouragement, and promotion will help people choose to take the extra step and recycle what they can.

“Training and education are key in getting people to recycle,” McClellan said.

Delta Tau Delta fraternity sees the incentive to recycle at football games as an opportunity to give back.

“Service to community is one of our organization’s values,” fraternity president James Proehl said. “This is a great opportunity to lead a legacy and get involved. Plus, it’s so simple to recycle."

Delta Tau Delta will have at least 15 members volunteering at each game this fall. Proehl said that he hopes other greek organizations are also receptive to this opportunity for service.

Recycling is becoming increasingly important at other Big Ten football games, too. The Environmental Protection Agency annually hosts the Big Ten Game Day Challenge to encourage schools to lower their game day waste by creating and implementing a yearly recycling plan. The school with the least amount of waste at the end of football season is declared the winner.

The UI currently ranks in the middle of the pack, and the goal for the 2012 season is to be the leader — not just for waste generated at football games but throughout campus.

“We want to create a unified branding that helps people recycle and reduce waste,” said George McCrory, the communications specialist for the Office of Sustainability.

He said recycling is emphasized in all university program levels.

“If recycling is the first thing freshmen see in the residence halls, then students will continue the same habits in classrooms, their postgrad programs, and even after.”

McCrory said recycling at university sports events, including Hawkeye football games, is a logical step toward the campus-wide green effort. The goal is to shrink the amount of waste generated by the university by 60 percent before the year 2020.

“It only takes one person to take the initiative to change something, and more and more people will follow,” Hurley said.


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