EPA to sports enthusiasts: Get your recycling game on

Annual Game Day Challenge encourages colleges and universities to put on the greenest home game possible, in terms of waste management and greenhouse gas emissions.

Before I really get into the meat of this post, let me just admit that I grew up in a family that really didn't have any sports manias, with the exception of a basic love of one of the most graceful of all team sports, hockey. But I have been around enough of my husband's friends to understand the visceral, gut love that many people have for their chosen team -- especially when it comes to collegiate sports and fantasy leagues. And this is why I think the annual Game Day Challenge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a very smart idea, indeed.

The initiative is part of the EPA WasteWise program, which is a voluntary effort focused on encouraging organizations to eliminate solid waste. The Game Day Challenge scenario is pretty simple: Participating colleges and universities plan an extensive waste reduction program for at least one home-season football game and then measure the impact. There are several ways that they can win:

  • Demonstrating the least amount of waste generated per fan
  • Recording the biggest cut in greenhouse gas emissions (which comes from the amount of waste diverted from landfills)
  • Showing the highest recycling rate
  • Creating the highest reduction of organic materials through composting or food donations
  • Earning the best combined scores for all of the above

The registration for the Challenge is open until Sept. 30, 2011. The games must take place this fall, and the winner will be announced in December.

Last year, 75 schools participated in the 2010 Challenge, diverting about 500,000 pounds of waste from landfills and cutting approximately 940 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions through their effort.

Here are the schools that won last year:

Waste Minimization Champion: Ithaca College and University of Tennessee at Martin
Diversion Rate Champion: University of California, Davis
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Champion: University of Central Oklahoma
Recycling Champion: University of Central Oklahoma
Organics Reduction Champion: Marist College

Colleges and universities are already some of the most sustainability-minded organizations around, at least in part because by saving money on energy, water and better resource-management, more tuition money can go towards exactly that, tuition. Considering the impact of big sporting events on the stadiums or arenas and given how excited and competitive sports fans get about their teams, especially at the collegiate level, this is a great way to drive visibility for good environmental habits and promote sustainable living habits among future generations.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com


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