By Jennie Harp (GA for Facilities and Event Management)
There are many “jobs” that I thought I would do as the graduate assistant for VCU Facilities and Event Management, however the one I did not expect was to be implementing a recycle program within the Siegel Center. The plan is known as Zero Waste, which refers to diverting 90% of trash from the landfill by separating recyclable materials and organic materials.
I coordinate directly with the Facilities Management staff on VCU’s campus, and together we have developed a pilot program that is being implemented at VCU Men’s Basketball games, and hopefully will be used to implement across the VCU campus. Numerous meetings have taken place concerning the best way to make changes that will be effective throughout our building–one of them included taking employees desk-side trash cans away. Needless to say, I have had multiple raised eyebrows, questions, and concerns. The idea behind it though is that we don’t really have “trash” anymore. In order to implement within our department and with our fans is to make it as simple as possible. If it’s liquid, food, or a messy hot dog holder covered in ketchup, it goes in the organic container. Everything else should fall into the recycle container–this includes all paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, and metal.
In October, I reached out to local area high schools and the VCU Greek system to gauge what interest we would have in having volunteers help us at each game. The response was very positive. Each home game will have volunteers to help educate fans at the recycle “stations” to help them designate what goes where.
While I didn’t think I would be as involved as I am in it now, being part of something of this magnitude and the experience that I’ve had so far has been very valuable. Every game is a learning experience and is used as a tool to make our efforts more effective the next game. Most importantly, I feel like I am making a difference for future generations. Creating a zero waste environment requires a shift in culture, and I think we are slowly shifting. Individually, it only requires a simple change behavior, yet it can have a huge impact globally. Despite the amount of work required, I am really proud to be involved in this movement.