In the Grove, you will find tailgating like no other. With tents full of food and friends as far as the eye can see, our football season is a true celebration of community and our Ole Miss Rebels. However, our tailgating methods can often have a negative impact on our planet. For example, from just last football season alone, our Grove generated 398,420 pounds of waste! Fortunately, there are many ways to get your Grove on while also minimizing your environmental impact. Use the following 10 easy and sustainable tips so that you can have fun at your tailgate while still being good to the environment!
1.) Recycle through the Green Grove Initiative. Recycling is a fun, easy way to immediately lessen the impact of your tailgate—and anyone can do it! In fact, last year we recycled 12,000 pounds during football season. Look for recycling bins in the Grove and Circle or you can grab a bag from the dispensers on the Ole Miss recycling trailer, located on the Union Plaza. Green Grove volunteers will also be handing out recycling bags briefly on game days. We can recycle aluminum, plastic bottles, and Solo cups. With your plastic bottles, check the bottom for a #1 or #2 encased in a triangle–this will signify plastic that we can recycle! When you break down your tailgating set up, simply leave your green bag in the Grove, where it will be picked up later. Remember not to place glass, paper or food waste in the green bags.
2.) Say no to Styrofoam. Styrofoam cups, plates and other materials are problematic for many reasons. First, they contain a harmful chemical called styrene that can cause health problems in humans during manufacturing. Styrofoam is also not recyclable and takes approximately 500 years to disintegrate. This means that when you use a styrofoam cup, that cup will outlive you in landfill by at least six times your lifetime! Although certain cousins of Styrofoam are recyclable in theory (like polystyrene foam, for example), they are not recyclable here in Oxford, so they would still present the same problems as styrofoam.
3.) Limit your use of disposables. From serving dishes and cups to utensils, try to incorporate as many reusable items as possible in your Grove tent set up. If you must use disposables, choose better disposables! Choose plasticware that is made from plastic that can be recycled. Look for the #1 or #2 on the bottom!
4.) Recycle your Solo cups, but only on game day. If you use Solo cups at your tailgate, remember that we do recycle them on game day–thanks to a special program within the Green Grove Initiative, facilitated by our Game Day Coordinators. Outside of this program, however, the University of Mississippi (and Oxford Recycling) do not recycle Solo cup plastic. This plastic must be sent to a recycling aggregator that is located outside of Oxford.
5.) Be conscious of the food you bring to the Grove. Purchase local, real food as frequently as possible. Integrate lower impact food into your tried-and-true Grove recipes. Try to include some delicious vegan and vegetarian options. Check out the Farmer’s Market Store, the Oxford City Market or MidTown Farmer’s Market for local ingredients.
6.) When you buy food and drink for the Grove, look for options that come in recyclable packaging. There’s no need to bring glass bottles or other containers to the Grove! They are not recyclable, and are much more difficult and dangerous to clean up if they shatter.
7.) Think beyond four wheels. With added fees and more time spent in search of parking, driving a car to the Grove can often create more problems than it solves. Driving also creates a safety issue when there are so many people present on game day. Instead of driving to campus, try walking, taking a gameday shuttle, or the even faster option of riding a bicycle. Bicycles can be fitted with trailers to carry any supplies, and can even be brought on campus where cars cannot. If you must drive to campus, always try to arrange a carpool!
8.) Are you a dedicated tailgater looking to catch the game in the Grove? Power your tent using a solar-powered generator! Not only are they priced comparably to conventional generators, but they are also often quieter, so you won’t miss any important plays.
9.) Take ownership of your tent. Remember to encourage your friends and family to be sustainable in their game day activities. Teach other members of your tailgate how to use the green recycling bags and clean up litter responsibly. While you may not be able to control everything that happens in the Grove, you can control the amount of litter under your own tent.
10.) Follow the Ole Miss Green Initiative on social media. To keep up with green game day updates, follow the Ole Miss Green Initiative on Facebook and @olemissgreen on Twitter. On Instagram, follow @olemissgreen and@umgreengrove!
Written by by Kendall McDonald, Post Baccalaureate Fellow
Story and graphic courtesy UM Office of Sustainability