Athens, Ga. – A student volunteer-based effort spearheaded by University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology undergraduates has collected over 1,500 pounds worth of bottles and cans during UGA home football games. The Ecology Club will expand its efforts for the University of Alabama game on Sept. 27, as a result of Athens-Clarke County increasing its donations from 30 to 100 recycling bins.
“We have collected well over a thousand pounds of recycled materials with only twenty student volunteers who spend 12 hour days working to have a cleaner, more sustainable campus,” said Christina Faust, a B.S./M.S. ecology student. “We physically haul around big bags full of cans and bottles, then dump out the liquid and often cut our hands on glass in the process. Even so, it’s worth it.”
For the previous two years, ACC provided limited game day recycling as a pilot project. At the completion of the project, the Ecology Club, began providing the manpower for the recycling effort with help from ACC in the form of providing recycling bins and pickup. The group also has received support from the UGA Physical Plant. And to increase their efforts, the Ecology Club partnered with the UGA chapter of Habitat for Humanity and Go Green Alliance.
The initiative is based in Myers Quad and covers a large portion of South Campus. Beginning at 7:30 a.m. on game days, volunteers clad in neon yellow t-shirts collect cans and bottles from tailgaters. A big push begins one and a half hours before kickoff with collection moving toward the stadium gates.
“We have received so much positive feedback from tailgaters and alumni, and our goal is to see game day recycling continue to expand,” said Mark Milby, a junior ecology major. “We are doing as much as we possibly can, but this is not a long term solution. We hope that our efforts will result in a university-wide initiative, which will help provide enough labor to cover the entire campus.”
Besides helping keep campus clean, the Ecology Club has donated over 300 pounds of scrap aluminum to Habitat for Humanity to be turned into cash. The group is trying to attract more volunteers to expand its recycling efforts, which also will help increase donations.
“Our goal is to collect several thousand pounds of recycled materials this football season,” said Milby. “We have a commitment to sustainability and recycling is just the first step.”
With roots that date back to the 1950s, the UGA Odum School of Ecology offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as a certification program. Namesake Eugene P. Odum is recognized internationally as a pioneer of ecosystem ecology. The school is ranked eighth by U.S. News and World Report for its graduate program. The Odum School is the first standalone school of ecology in the world. For more information, see http://www.ecology.uga.edu.