UW to participate in Game Day Challenge recycling competition

Competition is a powerful force. This weekend, University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletics and WE CONSERVE hope to leverage that competitive spirit to increase recycling during the Game Day Challenge.

The Game Day Challenge pits colleges against one another in a recycling free-for-all. Each college picks one game to report their trash and recycling weights to, and this year UW’s game is Homecoming. On Saturday, October 12th, UW competes in two competitions simultaneously: Badgers vs. Wildcats on the field and Badgers vs. Big 10 at the recycling bin. It’s Game Day Challenge time, and recycling participation will determine our victory.

The Game Day Challenge lists the results of more than 60 schools on its websites at the end of the Challenge season. Last year the numbers demonstrated that there is plenty of room for UW to grow. Across three separate rankings, UW placed above average in one category: Waste Minimization. The amount of waste (recycled or not) produced on our Game Day landed us in 24th place out of 61. The results indicated that each fan created about a quarter pound of waste.

A quarter pound of trash doesn’t sound all that harmful, but when scaled up to 70,000 fans, a quarter pound starts to weigh us down. During the 2011 Game Day Challenge fans produced 17,500 pounds of waste at a single game. With just 28.4% recycled, UW took home 42nd place in the Diversion Rate rankings.

To be fair, 2011 was WE CONSERVE and UW Athletics’ first attempt at recycling outreach in Camp Randall. And compared to previous years, fans in 2011 recycled 10 times more than in 2010. But the Game Day Challenge isn’t about just doing better than last year; it’s about doing better than the competition.

And the competition is tough. Several schools doubled UW’s rate of diversion, their successes set the bar high for the home team. We may beat them on the field, but they did better in the Game Day Challenge.

Despite the hurdles, advancing up the rankings in the Game Day Challenge is not a hopeless endeavor. UW Athletics and WE CONSERVE continue to make improvements and resolve barriers to improve landfill diversion.

For example, during the 2012 football season, volunteers visited tailgate areas before the game to hand out recycling bags and encourage fans to recycle in lots 60, 62, 40, and 41. In response, tailgaters smiled and offered encouragement. What’s more – they participated. Most tailgaters bagged up their recyclables and took them to the dumpster, leaving parking areas cleaner than years past.

Even with encouragement, raising recycling awareness before and during a Badger game is no easy feat. The Be the WE volunteers stick out like a lime green thumb in a sea of red, so if you see them hard at work, give them a thumbs up. And if you want to join them this game day (or any game day) sign up here http://vols.pt/ou1. Let’s recycle for a Badger victory in the Game Day Challenge!

Article by Lea Zeise, WE CONSERVE