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Project Green Grove Promotes Game Day Recycling

By Franziska Witte
Hottytoddy.com Intern

Green Grove volunteers sort recyclables.

As fans gather in the Grove for the longtime tradition of tailgating, one university organization hopes to inspire others to keep the area clean with recycling. 

The Green Grove Project is dedicated to making game days at The Grove more sustainable by recycling and educating tailgaters. Last year, they sorted 4,780 pounds of recycling from game days. The program is operated through the university’s Office of Sustainability, Landscape Services, and the City of Oxford Recycling Department.

Lindsey Abernathy, associate director of the Office of Sustainability, said she wants tailgating in The Grove “to be something that future generations of students can enjoy.”

Therefore, the project aims to create respect for the natural space of The Grove by incorporating recycling into the game-day experience.

Voluntary Student Workers Help Recycling

Ole Miss students can volunteer to participate in the Green Grove Project and more than 200 students each year go through the program.

Recycling bags available to tailgaters at The Grove on game days.

On game days, the project provides tailgaters with bags to collect all recyclables, including plastic bottles, aluminum cans and plastic cups. The bags are then collected by Landscape Services and brought to the Recycling Center by the City of Oxford.

To recycle the collected items, volunteers sort the different materials and types of plastic.

“It is a really cool experience because you see what happens to your recycling after it goes into the bin,” Abernathy said.

She said that students volunteering for the sorting process learn a lot about how recycling works and why it is important.

Kiley Jacob, a sophomore at Ole Miss, signed up for the project and is aware of the need to recycle.

“I try to minimize my impact on all spectrums so if I have the opportunity to recycle, I recycle,” she said.

Small Portion of Game Day Trash is Recycled

Not all tailgaters at The Grove, however, make use of the recycling bags.

“The amount of recycling that we get would be much more I think if everybody used them,” Abernathy said.

The 4,780 pounds of recycling sorted last year only accounted for a little less than 3% of the waste from game days that was landfilled but still contained recyclables. Therefore, educating tailgaters about recycling is an equally important part of the project’s work.

Two times per season volunteers go out to The Grove on game day and talk to tailgaters about recycling. In addition to that, Green Grove team leaders are at The Grove on game days with an informational table where tailgaters can ask questions about recycling.

Abernathy said that over the last years, noticeably less trash, such as food leftovers, ends up in the recycling bags, which she said shows that tailgaters are learning more about how recycling works.

Reducing is Better Than Recycling

The project itself also tries to increase the sustainability of their work. For that reason, the organization is working with a new company this year which produces bags out of recycled materials.

But there’s more to be done, according to Abernathy.

“Recycling is really important but what we should be focusing on is source reduction in the first place. So that is what I would encourage is to use reusable items,” she said.

This 360-image shows the inside of the Oxford Recycling Center, where the recyclables are sorted.

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