Go green at GV’s Zero Waste Football Games

Courtesy / GVSU Green Team

Courtesy / GVSU Green Team

Elyse Greenwood

Take initiative to reduce waste at Grand Valley State University’s Zero Waste Football Games, starting Thursday, Aug. 30 at select home football games. 

Beginning at 7 p.m. at Lubbers Stadium during the first home football game of the year, GVSU’s Office of Sustainability will be hosting the fifth annual Zero Waste Football Games. This program aims to decrease the amount of waste that enters landfills during football games by educating fans on the correct bin to dispose of their garbage. Volunteers will be near waste stations throughout the stadium to assist visitors in placing their refuse in either the recycle, compost or landfill bins. 

The start of this program was inspired by the amount of garbage that football games produce.

“GVSU is so concerned about sustainability, and there is so much waste from the football games,” said Samuel Afoakwa, a graduate assistant for the Office of Sustainability. “There are people tailgating and drinking, and it produces a large amount of waste. This is the GVSU effort to not let other waste end up in the landfill and to do something meaningful.” 

In past years, every home football game has had volunteers encouraging zero waste. This year, due to the recent difficulty in finding volunteers, the goal is to have volunteers at three of the six home games. However, the objective remains the same: To have a positive impact on the environment.

“The highest amount (of waste) we were able to divert from the landfill was 70 percent,” Afoakwa said. “This is a lot, especially with the number of people that appear at the games. So our goal is to hit this 70 percent or to go above it.” 

All student organizations are encouraged to volunteer their time in this zero-waste initiative. In addition to being a LIB 100 approved event, there are other incentives to take action. A 50 dollar cash prize will be awarded to registered student organizations, and the organization that eliminates the highest percent of waste from landfills will win a 100 dollar cash prize. Volunteers will receive concession stand vouchers and access to returnable can and bottle funding as well. 

One group that has regularly participated in this event is the Student Environmental Coalition (SEC). 

“I think the games are really fun,” said Katelyn Tomaszewski, the former president and current member of SEC. “We do the same (recycling) in the cafeterias, and it’s fun to show people that they can do the same thing with the items sold at football games. It’s a totally different crowd, so we get to teach and talk to new people.” 

Not only do volunteers have the opportunity to educate others on this sustainability practice, but they too can benefit from the event. 

“It’s a good learning experience for volunteers, whether they have no experience with SEC or the three-stream system, or if they just want to learn more about it,” Tomaszewski added. “And it’s a fun way to hang out at the football game.”