The environmental action committee and UNC’s Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling have already been very involved in implementing programs to encourage greener athletic events.
We’ve all seen the many blue bins placed throughout Kenan Stadium. Also, the bottles, cans and blue cups sold at concession stands are all recyclable.
However, half (or more, depending on who you’re asking) of the excitement of a game happens outside the stadium. Tailgaters produce enormous amounts of waste, much of which could easily be recycled but often isn’t.
Efforts to rectify this situation have already been somewhat successful.
The Rameses Recycles program, started in 2008, distributes color-coded bags to tailgaters — clear bags for recyclables and colored bags for trash. Volunteers then collect the bags left in the parking lots.
Sounds easy, right? The program has improved recycling rates, with an average of about 479 pounds of waste collected per game from tailgating lots in 2011.
However, I think we can do better. Pennsylvania State University, which implemented the same type of tailgating bag program, has collected 1 to 1.5 tons of recycling from tailgaters each game. That’s more than four times as much as what UNC collects.
Not only can waste be recycled, but much of the leftover food typically thrown out could be easily composted. Greek houses, another popular spot for tailgaters, should also be encouraged to participate in recycling efforts.
UNC fans should consider the materials they’re using. Solo cups and storeroom materials are not recyclable, but can be easily replaced by cardboard, which is just as affordable. Or tailgaters can just leave their drinks in the recyclable aluminum or glass containers.
This contest is primarily intended to help the environment, but it’s also a challenge — and we are not standing on the winner’s podium yet.
During the State game, let’s not only paint the Wolfpack Carolina blue, but green as well.