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Green Games creates more sustainable athletic games

Ohio University Athletics has welcomed a new and creative way to create a more sustainable campus through Green Games.

Campus Recycling & Zero Waste, the Office of Sustainability, the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service have partnered with OU Athletics to increase sustainability during athletic games with the Green Games initiative. 

Volunteers at OU athletic games will stand in front of bins to ensure fans are disposing of waste properly.

“The goal (of the volunteers) is to help people as they're getting ready to throw things away, make sure that they're throwing it in the right stream and to learn about things that they didn't realize they could recycle,” Ryan Fogt, a professor of geography and sustainable administration hub coordinator, said.

Fogt also started the Climate and Sustainability Ambassadors, which is a student-led initiative to make Athens and Southeast Ohio more sustainable. 

He said the games can ignite environment-related conversations with students and start a positive change in the climate. 

“It’s really inspired some people to be more conscious of recycling and compost and really just generally how much trash they're producing within their own personal lives,” Mia Citino, a senior studying environmental studies and a climate and sustainability ambassador, said.

Kate Harmon, a senior studying environmental studies and a climate and sustainability ambassador, said that at every game, Green Games will highlight a Player for the Planet to engage with athletes and get them involved with the initiative. The Player of the Planet is chosen by someone who has taken action in sustainability.

Each athletic game has a different theme, for instance, compost and grounds, which focused on sustainable foods, was the theme for the Oct. 12 women's soccer match.

When the games conclude, volunteers go around the stands to pick up trash and recyclables, which are brought to campus recycling, Fogt said. 

“Outside the stadium, campus recycling sorts through the trash that people aren't going to be able to monitor directly in real-time,” Fogt said. “They go through it and make sure that everything that's in the recycles is recyclable and everything that's in the compost is compostable.”

During athletic games, campus recycling actively sorts through recycling and composting from the landfill. Once everything is sorted, the volunteers weigh the amount of waste they receive to determine who wins the game.

“The main trash stream goes to the landfill; the recycling stream goes to a recycling facility; and then a compost (stream) goes to a compost facility—we have our own on campus,” Fogt said. “They measure basically the percentage that gets diverted from the landfill and the highest amount of the weight that goes away from the landfall wins.”

During the Oct. 21 football game, the theme was waste, and Fogt said there was no Styrofoam served to attendants because Styrofoam goes directly to landfills and there are no recyclable options. 

Citino said she wants the university to have long-term sustainable practices within athletics, and she said there has already been huge progress toward that goal. 

“The goal is just to have long-term zero waste infrastructure within athletics, and everyone we've worked with within athletics and with the different sustainability groups has been really excited and eager to do that,” Citino said.


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