It’s that time of year when school spirit is at a high as students to prepare to cheer on the UConn football team. There is no shortage of Husky pride here at the Office of Environmental Policy, but we have more to celebrate than just football. On September 14th the OEP and UConn Athletics will carry out the fifth annual football Green Game Day.
The annual football Green Game Day event is dedicated to educating the fans about recycling. Individual volunteers, as well as volunteers from EcoHusky, EcoHouse, and from a freshman sustainability course (taught by Rich Miller, Director of the OEP), gather together to collect recyclables from fans tailgating at the game. The volunteers also promote awareness about recycling and educate the fans about proper disposal of recyclables within the stadium.
I had the privilege of volunteering at the Green Game Day last year through my freshman sustainability course. The experience I had at my first Green Game Day is one that I will never forget. By volunteering, I helped to reduce the amount of solid waste produced at the game. I also got to reach out to students and fans about the importance of recycling. This experience was incredibly rewarding and led me to participate in other sustainability events on campus thereafter.
Before the football game started, I walked around the parking areas with about half of the other volunteers armed with a green bag sporting the EcoHusky logo, as we collected all manner of recyclables from the tailgaters. The fans were all very responsive to our efforts and began putting their recyclables in bags or in a central location so that we could access them more easily. Many tailgaters commended us on our dedication to the environment and some even mentioned their hopes for a more permanent recycling program at the field.
I also got to work at the information tent at FanFest, located just outside the stadium. While there we informed fans and students alike about the Office of Environmental Policy, about our Green Game Day initiatives throughout the year, and about the end-products of recycling. We also set up sustainability-oriented games that people could play and gave away prizes if we saw anyone recycling on their own. While spending time at the tent, the OEP was able to reach out to a lot of people and help them realize just how essential recycling is.
Finally, just before kickoff, the volunteers went in waves into the stadium to man the garbage cans for the first half of the game. Once stationed, our goal was to educate the fans about proper disposal of recyclables. Many people do not have a clear idea of what is or is not recyclable. As a result, they either throw everything away or end up contaminating the recycling stream with non-recyclables. Through the Green Game Day, we were able to encourage recycling and to make people more aware of what can and cannot be recycled.
At the end of the day we were able to completely fill three dumpsters with recyclable goods that would otherwise have been thrown away. The greater accomplishment, though, was to make people more aware of correct recycling procedures as well as the importance of recycling. I cannot wait to participate in Green Game Day again this year so that I can again make a positive impact on the fans that are there and so that I can cheer on my team! Go Huskies!