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Over 800 pounds of recyclables collected during EPA Game Day Challenge

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Volunteers from Sustainable UMass, the Eco-Rep program and the Student Government Association collected 833.5 pounds of recyclables as of Wednesday night in the aftermath of the night’s tailgate as part of a national recycling competition called the EPA Game Day Challenge.

Volunteers collected and weighed bottles and cans from the tailgate in an effort to reduce the waste and cost of cleanup from the homecoming tailgate. Sustainable UMass will report the weight of recyclables to the EPA which will later be used in a national ranking against other colleges participating in the EPA Game Day Challenge. Once measurements are reported, all recyclables will be donated to the women’s club soccer team to help fund their trip to Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee.

Some student volunteers drove around golf carts equipped with recycling bins while others canvassed the parking lot on foot in search of recyclables.

Students participating in the tailgate were eager to recycle when the tools to do so were readily available.

“It has been really successful, more successful than I anticipated,” said Jordan Chan, secretary of sustainability for the SGA and Waste and Recycling fellow at Sustainable UMass. “Students are receiving us really well.”

Chan first developed the idea to bring the Game Day Challenge to UMass and organized the event alongside Campus Sustainability Manager, Ezra Small.

“I am so grateful for all the volunteers that participated and how enthusiastic they were to be involved,” Chan said. “And the people who tailgated who were really supportive too.”

By 7 p.m., two hours into the tailgate, volunteers had already collected 212 pounds of recyclables. An hour later that number rose to 440.

The real work, however, began after students left the parking lot at 8 p.m. and volunteers began cleanup.

Chan said they expect to report over 1,000 pounds of recyclables collected after they tally the totals from all the other recycling bins around the stadium.

It cost the University of Massachusetts $28,000 to clean up over 22,000 pounds of waste on the ground after the Homecoming tailgate earlier this season. UMass did not participate in the Game Day Challenge during the Homecoming tailgate.

The Newman Catholic Center tent helped keep volunteers warm with cups of chowder. Volunteers also received free $10 food vouchers, tickets to the game and were entered to win one of five gift certificates to local businesses.

This will be the only Game Day Challenge UMass participates in this year, as the only remaining home game will take place when students are gone over Thanksgiving break.

In the future the SGA, Eco-Reps and Sustainable UMass hope to continue to participate in the Game Day Challenge and someday hope to make the “Zero Waste Wall of Fame” for 90 percent waste diversion from landfills.

“The goal is to continue this for future years,” Chan said. “We hope that after this success, that all the departments involved will be enthusiastic to help out and keep this program going.”

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@umass.edu.

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