Campus News / Spring 2018

DU home games go zero-waste

Senior Selene McConachy manages DU’s zero-waste sports program. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Among the environmentally aware students who help staff DU’s Center for Sustainability is senior Selene McConachy, a double-major in journalism and psychology with minors in Chinese and sustainability. McConachy manages the center’s zero-waste sports program, which works to divert waste at home hockey, lacrosse, gymnastics, basketball and soccer games, ensuring that recyclable and compostable items are diverted from landfills.

 

Q: How is the zero-waste sports effort going?

A: It’s going great. We used to be just zero-waste hockey, but now we’ve branched out, and it’s going pretty successfully. We’ve maintained on hockey, and we’re just trying to bring that awareness to the audiences at all the other games.

 

Q: Is it truly zero waste?

A: Not yet, but almost. True zero waste is 90 percent, and we’re at 82 percent for hockey, so we’re getting quite close with that. The other ones vary. Soccer is close to 90 percent. Lacrosse needs a little help, but we’re working on it.

 

Q: What goes into that number, and what goes into that effort?

A: At the very beginning of the game, we set out the bins in strategic places so that when people throw things out, they know where to put them. During the game, we sort them, and then at the end of the game we weigh them. Every single bin that you see at a game is weighed, and then we compile those numbers and see how much waste came from which areas. For hockey, we see how much waste came from the concourse, how much waste came from the Gold Club and different areas like that.

 

Q: Are people pretty receptive to the effort and taking the extra time to sort their trash?

A: Previously, when we were just doing hockey, people were usually pretty enthusiastic and wanted to get things right. We’re not goalie-ing for hockey anymore; we’re starting with lacrosse; and they generally seem enthusiastic. They’re willing to follow our directions, but sometimes they try to sneak past us if they don’t want to deal with us.

 

Q: Simple question, but what’s the reason behind the campaign? Why make the games zero waste?

A: I don’t think people realize how much waste is produced from these games. It’s hundreds of pounds every single night because there are so many people. If it all ends up in the landfill, it’s just repeating the cycle. We’re trying to intervene with where all this waste goes in the end. And ideally it would be great if we could train other people — not only students, but parents, alums — to bring recycling and composting into their own lives as well.

 

Q: Where did your interest in and passion for sustainability come from?

A: I have to admit that when I started university, I never thought I’d care about trash. It sort of happened. I’ve always been interested in the environment and the impact that we have, and I’ve tried to be sustainable, but it really launched when I was a part of the Environmental Sustainability Living Learning Community [a program that puts first-year students with similar interests on the same residential floor and engages them in related programming]. They had a lot of great programs and field trips, and I learned so much about it. It’s always been a subject I’ve been interested in and wanted to learn more about. It has a really important impact, especially in this day and age, with the onset of climate change, and I wanted to see if I could make a difference.

 

 

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