Montana State University

MSU steps up Bobcat game day recycling efforts

November 14, 2014

MSU student Ross Wolfe, right, instructs a Bobcat fan about single-stream recycling. Wolfe is one of the “green team,” student employees of the MSU Office of Sustainability who have helped make recycling efforts at Bobcat home games a growing success.

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Bobcat fans have kept nearly 15,000 pounds of trash out of landfills as a result of a game day recycling program launched in partnership with the City of Bozeman.

This year, through the first five home games, Bobcat fans recycled 14,900 pounds of tailgate and game day trash through the city’s single-stream recycling program. Single-stream recycling funnels all recyclables through one container rather than requiring sorting, according to organizers.

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” said Kristin Blackler, director for the MSU Office of Sustainability about the game day single-stream recycling efforts that began just a year ago and have been growing steadily since.

That’s because recycling is often largely about education, according to E.J. Hook, MSU’s environmental services manager who works with Blackler and her student employees and that have kept  a small mountain of recyclables out of area landfills.

While the MSU campus has long had a campus recycling program, the university made a big push to educate the public about recycling during Bobcat home games after the City of Bozeman went to single-stream recycling last year.

Hook said that he and Blackler determined that MSU’s home games, which attract up to 20,000 people and are some of the largest gatherings of Montanans in one place throughout the calendar year, provided a perfect opportunity to educate the public about recycling.

“We thought we had the perfect venue for an educational effort,” Hook said. He added that because MSU is a land grant institution with a mission to educate students and the communities it serves, the effort has an added value.

Hook points out that while recycling efforts might be well known in Montana cities, such as in Bozeman’s city limits, many of the fans come from areas where recycling isn’t common or maybe not practiced.

One of the major points of education, Blackler points out, is to keep general trash and food out of recycling containers. Blackler said she and her student employees are so passionate about recycling that efforts involve fishing out offending food waste unknowingly or unintentionally pitched into the wrong containers “more often than we would like.”

“We sometimes have to get down and dirty,” she said with a good natured shrug.

To promote the efforts, MSU’s Office of Sustainability also participated in videos sponsored by First Interstate Bank that have been played on the scoreboards during breaks and displayed the City of Bozeman’s Recycling Truck in the tailgate area.  

The effort seems to be working, Hook said. Last year, 10,600 pounds of recyclables were collected during MSU’s six home games. That number has been dwarfed by the 14,900 pounds of recyclables collected through the first five games, with two more games to go.

It’s a stunning accomplishment for a small but passionate crew of four or five students who work from four hours before kick-off until four hours after the game ends, wrangling recycle bins, separating unintended trash from the recycling and preparing the bins for pick up by the City of Bozeman.

“Each year we are making improvements,” Blackler said. She said one area that the group would like to target next year is to provide more recyclable containers for food sold at the game.

Blacker said her office is working with MSU concessions to find ways to make more of the containers sold at the games recyclable.

Blackler said that even though the recycling and sustainability efforts at each game are “huge, physically draining days,” the members of the crew that works are passionate about their work, educating the public and changing the way Bozeman and MSU view recycling.

“The crew is deeply committed,” she said, adding that the members of the team also have a lot of fun.  “They care because (the stadium) is their house.”

To learn more about MSU recycling efforts, go to http://www.montana.edu/sustainability/recycling/

 

 

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Kristin Blackler  (406) 994-6825,  kristin.blackler@montana.edu