COLUMBIA — When ESPN’s "College GameDay" came to MU, show employees passed out rain ponchos to thousands of fans. But after the show ended, Francis Quadrangle was littered with them. Sustain Mizzou’s Tiger Tailgate Recycling program rushed to the rescue.
“I sent my best volunteers to clean up the quad,” said Maggie Holleman, Tiger Tailgate Recycling project coordinator. “There was a truck full of rain ponchos, literally thousands. It started to rain, and we had all of these unused or lightly used ponchos.”
The group collected the ponchos and gave them back to wet fans who needed them.
“It was an excellent way to reduce, reuse, recycle,” Holleman said. “We definitely reused.”
This was just one example of the ways that Tiger Tailgate Recycling, a project within Sustain Mizzou that focuses on recycling at football games, conserves resources. This autumn alone, the group collected 18.6 tons of recycled material at six home football games. This marks an increase from the 15.1 tons collected last year.
“I would definitely consider this year a success,” Holleman said. “We recycled more than last year, over a ton more. Eighteen tons is not too shabby. That is 18 tons that would be in a landfill.”
Tiger Tailgate Recycling volunteers work on football game days by splitting into two shifts. The volunteers in the first shift work for about three hours before the game. They cover each of the tailgating sites, distributing bags so that tailgaters can recycle.
Holleman said that tailgaters have gotten used to seeing the group. She said that a common response they hear is, "We’ve been waiting for you guys to come around."
The second shift of volunteers works during the game, clearing recycling bins that are overflowing.
Using two shifts is a new strategy for the group, Holleman said; in previous years, they operated using three shifts. She said that the group is still restructuring its method.
Holleman said that weather is one of the biggest challenges Tiger Tailgate Recycling faces.
“It’s hard to get people to come out and volunteer when it is either 30 degrees or raining,” Holleman said.
Ben Datema, student sustainability advisor with the Department of Student Life, became involved with the program in 2005 and said he has enjoyed seeing it evolve.
“My first volunteer experience at Mizzou was with Sustain Mizzou in 2005,” Datema said. “I fell in love with it and became more involved with Sustain Mizzou. I was president for a year and a half. As far as an educational experience, it was very helpful to me, certainly valuable.”
Datema said that the MU athletics department and the MU Sustainability Office, which began in 2009, have taken on larger roles in working with Tiger Tailgate Recycling.