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Zero Waste Initiative: Red, white, blue and green at Miami’s games

By Alison Treend, For The Miami Student

Photo by Connor Moriarty

There is something new about the sporting events at Miami University.

It is not the new football coach, or the recent addition to Goggin. It is something called the Zero Waste Initiative, and it is helping students take part in Miami's movement toward sustainability.

The Zero Waste Initiative is a new program implemented by Miami's Green Team, a group of students that organizes a variety of on-campus sustainability events. The Zero Waste Initiative aims to reduce the amount of garbage thrown away in trashcans, and instead encourages the use of composting and recycling at sports games.

Zero waste stations are stands where people can properly dispose of their garbage into either compost bins, recycling bins or trashcans. They are manned by zero waste ambassadors who can help guide people to the correct forms of disposal.

Zero waste stations and ambassadors will be, and have been, at every home football game, and will also be at hockey and basketball games.

The concept of zero waste technically means at least 90 landfills, but the Green Team is more realistic in its approach.

"We don't really endeavor to make that happen," Green Team's president Anna Ginsky said. "The intention is to raise awareness to a very possible behavior change."

A behavior change geared more toward sustainability than convenience.

Yet despite its simplicity, the Zero Waste Initiative has not been a success so far. Ginsky believes it is a matter of people being aware of the services the Green Team offers and seeking them out.

Patrick Boyle, a member of the Green Team, said the initiative is "a work in progress," as it is still new on campus. However, he said he is hopeful the Green Team will have a better game plan by the end of the year.

Surely it has been said and heard before: recycling is good for the planet. But even with "recycle" as a buzzword for the environment, the differences between composting, recycling and trash are not always clear.

Recycling takes many products, such as metals, like soda cans, clean paper, glass and plastics. Composting includes food and paper products like napkins, soiled cardboard, trays and soda cups -all of which are too often found overflowing out of trashcans.

The problem then is not finding solutions to the tremendous amount of garbage the university must deal with every day. It is getting students, faculty, alumni and visitors to make an effort.

"It takes five seconds out of your day to learn what goes where and dispose of it properly," Boyle said.

Ginsky does not know where the future of the Zero Waste Initiative lies. Her ideal goal would be to see a change in habits, where recycling and composting become second nature. She is realistic about the initiative but hopes it will continue to grow, "even if it just took root and thrived here."

This year, Miami's sports teams are not the only ones seeking a win at the home games. The zero waste stations are too - by little steps toward helping the planet.