It is 9AM on Saturday morning, Oct. 16th and everything is calm and quiet, save for two students setting up a sandwich board and a few signs. Not too far away, a few grounds crew members are setting up recycling and trash bins.
To look on this quiet scene, few would suspect that this area would soon be filled with thousands of football fans as Harvard not only prepared to take Lehigh in that afternoon’s game, but to also take on 90 other colleges in the EPA’s Game Day Challenge.
The Game Day Challenge is the EPA’s annual contest that dares colleges to pick one football game in the month of October, and go to the extremes to do as much waste reduction, recycling and compost as they can at the game and the surrounding events. After the game is done, each college reports is weight in trash, recycling and compost, as well as the number of attendees, and the EPA ranks them in a number of categories, including diversion rate, least amount of total waste per person, compost per capita, etc. The college with the best overall ranking wins.
In 2009, the EPA piloted the contest, with nine schools from different divisions participating, including Harvard. In the end, Harvard came in 3rd that year, barely being beaten by University of Colorado and Ohio University.
This year, Harvard chose the Oct. 16th Football Game against Lehigh University because it coincided with both the Freshman Parents Weekend and a Harvard Alumnae Luncheon, allowing us to get the help of both the Freshmen Parents and Alumnae in the efforts to green athletics.
Harvard Athletics, along with Harvard Recycling and the REP program went all out to make sure as much recycling as captured that day was possible, including:
- Setting up sandwich boards at the tailgate areas to inform tailgaters about recycling
- Sending REPs to walk around to all the tailgates, handing out trash and recycling bags to tailgaters.
- Setting up extra recycling bins, composting bins and trash bins under the stadium, and at the luncheons.
- Putting table tents on all the tables at the Freshman Parents Luncheon, explaining what the competition was and what they could recycle from their bagged lunch.
- Having REPs at the waste disposal areas at both the Alumnae Luncheon and Freshman Parents Lunch, explaining what was recycling, trash and (for the Alumnae Luncheon) compost.
- Walking through the stands at half time, collecting recyclables from patrons
- Walking through the stadium after the game, collecting any recyclables, such as bottles, cans or programs, that had been left in the stands.
Harvard won’t know the actual results from the competition until mid-November, but seeing the mound of recycling that towered over the trash at the end of the day, no one can deny the day was a success.
Many thanks are due to Crimson Catering, the Office of Student Life, the Freshman Deans Office, Harvard Alumnae Association, Harvard Parking Services, Harvard FMO Recycling Services, Save that Stuff, Allied Waste and Cambridge Landscaping for helping accomplish all we did.