Hour 17: 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22
COLUMBIA — Where there’s tailgating, there’s trash. And Tiger Tailgate Recycling is determined to make recycling that trash as easy as possible.
Despite the morning chill, tailgaters are out at 9 a.m. setting up camp in a parking lot just outside of the stadium.
As the parking lot fills, Tom Laughlin drives a golf cart from group to group handing out blue recycling bags. Laughlin is a veteran recycling volunteer, but this is the first chance he has had to drive the golf cart.
"We've been waiting for you," a group of tailgaters yell. Laughlin jerks the cart forward, heading in their direction. The gas pedal is touchy, and the cart is not easy to maneuver.
It’s an hour before the game, and it is almost too difficult to drive the cart through the crowd.
Recycling volunteer Shea Roll hands out bags to tailgaters in the VIP lot. It's her first time volunteering with the group, but within a few minutes she has her speech down.
"Would you like a recycling bag?" Roll said to a group of alumni. "It'll hold glass, plastic and aluminum. Then just leave it here when you are done."
Roll extends her arm and hands out a bag before moving on to the next group.
She hasn't been turned away. Most tailgaters in this lot know the drill and greet her warmly. A few already have their own blue bags from previous weekends.
It's 11 a.m. and steady streams of people are making their way into the stadium.
Most of the recycling volunteers are back at their tent just under the Jumbotron.
Project leader Jesse Day sends out a few volunteers to check bins located near the entrances of the stadium.
The major rush has died down, and the game has started, but the volunteers know better than to relax.
“We continue to watch the bins and monitor how they are doing,” Day said.
They know they will be hit with a second round as people flood out of the stadium and back to their tailgates for half-time activities.
One of the recycle bins in front of the entrance to the stadium is full again. A man struggles to push his red Solo cup through one of the holes on top of the bin. Similar looking cups block the bin’s other three holes.
"Columbia doesn't recycle that kind of plastic," Jesse Day said from the recycling tent. "That is why it doesn't fit." He shakes his head.
Columbia only recycles No. 1 and No. 2 plastics. Solo cups are typically No. 6.
"I'm not going to tell people that though. I'm just happy they are trying,” Days said.