Delaney Buskard, Office for Sustainability Student Employee
In October 2019, UVA competed in its 10th annual Green Game (formerly GameDay Recycling Challenge). Not only did we beat the Duke Blue Devils football by 34 points, but we also were able to divert waste from the landfill and educate game attendees about best recycling and composting practices. Each year, volunteers talk to tailgaters, monitor waste stations, and collect waste in the stadium seats after the game is over (“sweeping the bowl”), in order to divert as much waste as possible and achieve a “zero waste” game. “Zero waste” means that 90% of all waste at the game is diverted from the landfill to either recycling or compost. This past fall, we achieved a 59% diversion rate. Even though it was slightly lower than last year’s 63% diversion rate, there were almost twice as many attendees. UVA continues to rank highly amongst our competing ACC schools, in terms of both football and waste diversion. You can read more about UVA’s successful zero-waste events and how to have one of your own, here.
A big part of UVA Sustainability’s success in Green Games and other athletic waste audits can be attributed to our relationship with UVA Athletics. The Green Athletics group is a student-athlete run group that bridges the gap between sustainability and the athletics department. Members are very passionate about opening up the conversation about how UVA’s athletic events can be run more sustainably since they collectively contribute to a large environmental footprint at UVA, whether through waste generated or electricity usage during athletic events. The Green Athletics group works with UVA’s Office for Sustainability to help advocate for more sustainable practices and by helping athletic teams build more sustainable habits.
Sadey Rodriguez, the Office for Sustainability’s Green Athletics Intern and second year on the UVA Track and Field team, has worked on the development of a new “green” standard for athletics teams: the Green Team Certification. According to Sadey, “The Green Team Certification was created to promote sustainable actions and environmental consciousness within teams while also letting the University know that we are doing our part to reach carbon emissions, fossil fuel, and waste goals too.” Teams perform various sustainable actions, such as hosting a zero-waste event, in order to obtain points. Once a team has accumulated 10 points, they are Green Team Certified. The next step in this exciting initiative is to expand it so that it can be administered competition-style, where the team with the most points can be rewarded.
The next big green athletics event will be a UVA Green Game that will take place on February 29, against the Duke Blue Devils men's basketball team. Green Game basketball consists of volunteers monitoring waste stations, helping fans sort their waste, and sweeping the stadium for programs, recyclables, and compostable materials. Last year, over 86% of the waste produced at Green Game basketball was diverted from the landfill - we are so close to achieving zero waste! Students can sign up to volunteer and help us achieve our goal, until February 17th.