Following basketball games at Breslin center, the MSU Recycling Center hosts a recycle sweep open to the public so people can help reduce the environmental impact of basketball games.
It's no surprise that items are left behind in the stands following most sporting events, and it's usually left up to the custodial staff to clean up the messes made. Because of limited time and resources, the staff would not typically be able to sort out compost, waste and recyclables. That's where the volunteers came in.
The main point of the event was to clear the stands of anything that was compostable or recyclable, sort them into separate bags and then the recycling collection would take them.
That’s when everyone gathered, snapped on their purple cleaning gloves and got to work.
“It’s awesome to see the students come out for this, you know, especially for an evening taking a couple hours out of their day to come do this, we really appreciate it because this isn’t something that would happen without the student volunteers, so they’re really making a difference," MSU Recycling Education Coordinator Katie Deska said. “We couldn’t just do this with the custodial staff or with us, so I think it’s inspiring that students even care that much to come out.”
The point of the sweep is to minimize waste that would be left behind in the stands; if they weren’t swept, the items left behind would just go into the trash. The center’s goal is to up the waste diversion rate from about 50% like it is now to 70% by 2024.
Environmental science and management junior Kate Gislason is a recycling outreach team member for the recycling center. She began volunteering at the center her freshman year and has been working there for almost two years now.
“One of the ways that we’re doing this is by talking with our staff and faculty, seeing what works for them, talking to our students, making sure that they’re educated, making sure everyone on campus knows what’s going on,” Gislason. “But these extra events really help us capture more, and they’re huge, so many people show up for these events and getting that outreach for the students is also educating them on what materials can actually be recycled when they come and attend events. So, hopefully this is just an educational experience for the entire MSU community.”
Some of the recyclable items that were collected included plastic water bottles, the lids to Tim Horton’s cups, novelty cups and their lids, cardboard food holders, popcorn boxes and more.
The compostable items were any left over food materials that weren’t too greasy or that had meat products in them. Popcorn, pop and coffee were all collected in the compost bags, but fries and hotdogs stayed in the stands.
"I think its awesome. It's fun to come with a friend, or don't come with a friend and meet people, people who care about the same sort of stuff that you do," Deska said. "It's a weird activity, but it's interesting to see what people leave behind."
There will be two more recycling sweeps following the basketball games on Feb. 25 and March 1. Other events hosted by the Recycling Center can be found on their Facebook page.