UT gameday crowd produces lots of trash that won't end up in landfill

11:55 PM, Sep 10, 2011   |    comments
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On the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus on Saturday, some big orange fans were thinking green.

"In today's event, since it's zero-waste, we don't even want the trash boxes out in people's sight, so we're trying to keep them hidden and just compost and recycle everything coming from this event today," said Emmy Waldhart, an AmeriCorps worker who is the assistant recycling coordinator on campus.

Volunteers took on the challenge of making the UT Parents Association Tailgate "zero-waste." Most in attendance gave the effort a thumbs-up.

"It's easier just to throw everything in one place, but the fact that they're helping throw plastic and glass and aluminum in all separate containers and everything is fantastic," said Kelly Davis, the parent of a UT student.

Volunteers surrounded the tailgate in Circle Park with recycling bins and compost containers.

The plastic bottles and aluminum cans were collected for recycling while the food, plates and utensils went to the compost pile.

"We started composting at UT, we have a site nearby the UT Medical Center, and we collect from dining locations around campus, and now we're able to do things like zero-waste events and take it to our own compost site and make it into nice soil, which goes to the UT organic farm, so it keeps it all right here in Knoxville, and it's a really great sustainability initiative," Waldhart said.

Between 30 and 40 volunteers collect recyclables at every home football game, but this year, they've also starting collecting compost.

Waldhart said, at the home-opener against Montana, volunteers collected 9.85 tons of recyclables and around 1,000 pounds of skybox food for compost.

"Anytime I can go to an event where they're recycling, I love it, and I love to participate with it because it's just helping the entire environment. If everybody does their part, everything will be, it'll be a better place, a better planet," Davis said.

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