By Michelle McNally, Contributing Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Gator tailgaters across the University of Florida campus helped create a winning season for the environment this fall.
All around campus on home football game days, volunteers for the TailGator Gameday Recycling Program increased awareness about recycling. These volunteers walked through popular tailgating areas on campus including Flavet Field, Plaza of the Americas, the Broward area and around the stadium, while educating tailgaters about how to recycle their waste. The volunteers also distributed blue recycling bags.
Allison Vitt, the outreach and communications coordinator for the UF Office of Sustainability, said this was a way the Office of Sustainability is trying to keep campus green on game days.
The program is coordinated by the Office of Sustainability in partnership with Pepsi and Physical Plant Solid Waste Management. Volunteers work in teams of two to four people for a two-hour shift.
Margaret Chou, a fourth-year biochemistry major, volunteered for a second time on Oct. 11.
“I am a really big fan of recycling,” Chou said. “So when I found out about Sustainable UF, I wanted to be a part of it and volunteer. I really wanted to do it so other people would know that recycling is important.”
Chou said that when she gives out bags, she explains what can and cannot be recycled. She said that mainly for these bags the recyclable items include plastics, aluminum and glass bottles.
Daniel Jin, a fourth-year biology major, was also a volunteer for the program. He believes the program is important to UF because it is part of the university’s continuing initiative to use recyclable and renewable resources. Jin said he hands out about a third of his bundle of bags during a shift.
Sarah Toth, an intern for the program and a third-year environmental engineering major, believes that the program is important not only because it informs the tailgaters about recycling, but also because it gets the volunteers excited about furthering the knowledge of recycling.
“We could just put trash bags everywhere, and we do, but that doesn’t get interaction, that doesn’t get people concerned and talking about [recycling],” Toth said. “So that is one of the main facets about this program— it gets people involved in being conscious about recycling.”
Erin Magliozzi, another intern for the program, said that the program attracts student volunteers from many different campus organizations.
“One of my favorite parts of working with this project is that we get to see a lot of students from different areas of campus and different walks of life,” Magliozzi said.
The program began in 2006 and is one of the longest running programs provided by the Office of Sustainability.
Magliozzi, a third-year biology major, said that because the program has been around for a number of years, tailgaters are familiar with it and are excited to see the volunteers on game days.
“The volunteers will sometimes come back and say that the tailgaters said, ‘Oh, we were waiting for you!’ or ‘We have our leftover bags from the last game,’” Magliozzi said. “It is nice to see that enthusiasm and the welcoming vibe that the tailgaters give off to the volunteers.”
Toth and Magliozzi shadowed the former student who was in charge of the program last year before they both took over the program this season.
“I am definitely glad I had the opportunity to work on this project because it is really fun, and it incorporates a lot of things that I am very passionate about, especially outreach to other students on campus, getting them involved and allowing them to have a hands-on opportunity to participate in the office’s goals,” Magliozzi said.
Since 2006, the program has diverted over 350,000 pounds of recyclable aluminum, glass and plastic from the UF’s waste stream, according to the Sustainable UF website.
“It’s been a really successful program, and we have a lot of people who go out and volunteer for it,” Vitt said. “We would love to have more volunteers every home game. We really, really value our volunteers.”