Big Red Fans Recycle, Compost 96 Percent of Game Trash

Most professional sports leagues have teamed up with the Natural Resources Defense Council to create a greener world through sports....

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Dan Roth, associate director of the Campus Sustainability Office, throws out T-shirts celebrating Recyclemania during a break at the men's basketball game in Newman Arena Feb. 23.
Dan Roth, associate director of the Campus Sustainability Office, throws out T-shirts celebrating Recyclemania during a break at the men's basketball game in Newman Arena Feb. 23.

By Blaine Friedlander via the Cornell Chronicle, 2/28/13

To ease our blue planet's environmental pressures, the Cornell Big Red turned green at the university's first Zero Landfill Game.

At the Cornell-Princeton basketball game Feb. 23, fans consumed hot dogs, chips, popcorn and soda -- but helped to divert 96 percent of the Newman Arena trash away from the landfill.

About 2,694 fans helped to turn the game's consumed concession food into 17 pounds of compost -- mostly popcorn bags, napkins and food scraps and about 65 pounds of recycling -- including soda bottles, coffee cup lids, paper and cardboard. Only 3 pounds of trash -- mostly candy wrappers, straws and non-recyclable bags from chips and nachos -- went to landfill.

As an eco-friendly surprise for the fans, Ovie Mughelli, a former NFL fullback with the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens, fired up a frenzied Newman Arena crowd at halftime -- offering a message that students can make a green difference by using the world of sports. After his professional football retirement, Mughelli started the Ovie Mughelli Foundation, a group that teaches youth about protecting the environment through sports.

Most professional sports leagues -- from Major League Baseball to the National Football League to professional tennis -- have teamed up with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to create a greener world through sports.

The Ivy League and Cornell's Big Red Athletics are now partners with the NRDC to make league athletics events more environmentally friendly. In addition, Cornell is participating in Recyclemania, a national eight-weeklong contest among colleges and universities to reduce waste, and the Campus Conservation Nationals, a nationwide event for college campuses to reduce energy; both events end March 30.

"Congratulations to Cornell for successfully achieving zero waste, defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance as diverting over 90 percent of all waste from landfills and incinerators, for Saturday night's basketball game," said Alice Henly, an NRDC executive, who visited Ithaca for the event.

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