Story posted October 23, 2012
Over seventy-four schools participated in this year’s EPA Game Day Challenge, ranging in size from Ohio State University (whose stadium seats 102,000) to Bowdoin (whose bleachers hold 9,000). At Bowdoin, the mastermind behind the Game Day Challenge was the Green Athletes group. Comprised of athletes representing each team sport at Bowdoin, the Green Athletes promote sustainable choices on the field, in the locker room, and at team dinners.
Alex Tougas ’14 and Tricia Thibodeau ’13 organized the event with help from their fellow Green Athletes, Green Bowdoin Alliance, Sustainable Bowdoin, and EcoReps. “I've always worked on the interface between being green and athletic since I was a sophomore,” says Thibodeau. “Athletics is such a big part of campus; the more athletes that can show their involvement the better.” Michele Kaufman ’13 shared similar sentiments. “Green Athletes seemed like a necessary group in order to reach a greater population at Bowdoin regarding environmental issues.”
In order to increase the recycling rate at the homecoming game, volunteers placed recycling bins next to every trash can. Signs attached to every compost and recycling barrel helped fans dispose of their waste properly. Volunteers then stood near bins to guide the occasional lost recycler and roamed the bleachers to collect bottles, cups, and brochures directly.
The results? Bowdoin diverted 305 pounds from the waste stream for a diversion rate of 81.8%. Students collected and weighed 29 pounds of organic waste (for the pigs!) and 274 pounds of recycling. Considering approximately 2,000 people attended the homecoming football match between Bowdoin and Trinity, the results were especially impressive.
Bowdoin may have lost the game, but there was a clear victory in trash diversion. Of course, those involved recognize that the Game Day Challenge should not end after homecoming. Emma Chow ’15 observed that a “one to one ratio of garbage bins to recycling bins - with bins set up in pairs - makes recycling easy for fans. The key for diverting waste at football games is making recycling as easy as possible for the fans.” Thibodeau anticipates a strong showing next year, too.
“People in the stands were super receptive to our aid. People approached us with questions regarding our group in general, and specifically about what to recycle, compost, and throw away.” Michele Kaufman ‘13