September 23, 2012

Greeks’ Tailgate at Cornell Homecoming Reduces Waste

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Cornell’s Sustainability Office encouraged Homecoming celebrants to reduce landfill waste — such as used red solo cups — at the Greek Life Tailgate before the Homecoming football game.

Rebecca Macies ’14, student sustainability coordinator at the Sustainability Office, said the Greek event was easy to target for improving environmental sustainability.

“The Greek tailgate is … kind of like the low-hanging fruit for sustainability –– it’s mostly students,” she said. “It’s contained, so it’s just kind of the easiest place for us to kind of focus our sustainability efforts.”

This year, landfill waste from the Greek tailgate was reduced by 75 percent from 2010, according to Macies.

Macies said that the office encouraged attendees to help minimize the environmental impact of the Greek tailgate by rearranging dumpsters, trash cans, recycling bags and compost repositories at the site of the party.

Because the largest source of waste from the Greek tailgate has historically been plastic red solo cups, Macies said, organizers prominently placed recycling containers, instead of trash cans, at the party.

“We’re trying to cut down on recyclable [materials] that get thrown into the landfill,” she said. “The easiest way to kind of cut down on waste is just limit people’s options … so instead of having lots of trash cans, we only put out recycling bins … so people don’t have a choice except, ‘Oh, this is the only place I can put my cup.’”

This will be the second consecutive year that the sustainability office –– through the efforts of Spring Buck, manager of R5, or “respect, rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle,” operations –– has coordinated with the Greek houses hosting the tailgate.

Macies said that the Sustainability Office hopes to reach out to other tailgate parties at Cornell — although she noted that more planning and manpower will be necessary to do so.

“I would say just the scale of Homecoming is just so huge,” Macies said. “There are so many things going on and so many aspects of Homecoming, it’s hard to communicate with everybody.”

Buck said that every tailgate event during Homecoming Weekend was a potential target for landfill waste reduction, but that different organizations were responsible for each one. For example, according to Buck, the tailgate hosted on the crescent behind Schoellkopf Field brought in teams of professionals to manage waste disposal and recycling.

Even with professionals on the job in some cases,  student organizations deserve a large amount of credit for coordinating their efforts to increase environmental sustainability, Buck said.

“I’d really highlight that there are a number of student clubs that have all really pitched in to make this work,” Buck said, citing the Sustainability Hub, Greeks Go Green and the Compost Club. “I think they really are the driving force behind this.”

Original Author: Byron Kittle