UCF gamedays yield nearly 100,000 pounds of trash
Video: Memory Mall trash clean up. Video by Arnold Godoy, Central Florida Future. Arnold Godoy
Come gameday, Knights fans flock to Memory Mall, where they bring school spirit — and a whole lot of trash.
"Last season, 92,620 pounds of trash were sent to the landfill and 61,160 pounds were recycled," Alexandra Kennedy, coordinator for recycling services at UCF, said in an email.
In the past, UCF has competed in the nationwide Game Day Challenge, "a friendly competition between colleges and universities across the country to reduce, reuse and recycle during football games," according to UCF Today.
Last year, UCF was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency and placed third in the country for its recycling efforts. This season, its homecoming game against Temple on Oct. 25 is registered as its official Game Day Challenge.
Currently, O, R&L Maintenance Services is contracted by the university to set up trash and recycling containers before the game and clear Memory Mall in the post-game cleanup.
"Landscape and Natural Resources used to be the group that was responsible for cleaning up the mall, and all of the university, after the games. In the last couple of years, though, [UCF] decided that that was not the most efficient or effective way to use the landscaping group, and so that's when they started contracting it out," said Jennifer Elliott, coordinator for the UCF Arboretum.
Although Memory Mall looks pretty clean by the time a game is over, Alaina Bernard, assistant director for the UCF Environmental Initiative & Arboretum, said the time it takes for O, R & L to finish the job depends on the game and size of the mess, "and can go into Monday if needed."
Landscape and Natural Resources still employs two people on campus during gameday to help coordinate and oversee O, R&L to ensure that it leaves as little negative impact on the environment as possible.
"We have to make sure our stormwater systems are kept clean, and if that trash is blowing into our stormwater systems or into our gutters, that's a problem," Elliott said.
Ultimately, students can help alleviate any stress on the environment with a few simple procedures.
"The most obvious tip that I would give to students is bring a marker. If you bring a marker, you can mark your cups; you're using less of them and you're wary that that's your trash so maybe you'll take it along with you," said Vy Nguyen, environment director at Volunteer UCF.
Nguyen also suggests that students bring two bags to the tailgate: One for trash and one for recyclables. Students can drop their trash off in UCF bins or take them to a waste-management center and get money back.
"If [students] really do care about the environment, then they can take the extra step to separate their cups and donate it to our fundraiser [Cups for Coins]," Nguyen said.
Cups for Coins is a partnership between Volunteer UCF and TerraCycle. For each plastic cup brought to the Office of Student Involvement in the Student Union, TerraCycle will donate 2 cents to the Sea Turtle Conservancy.
"Student volunteers have worked with us to educate tailgaters on what you can recycle and where," Kennedy said. "We have also worked with SGA in seasons past to incentivize recycling by offering giveaway prizes for bags of recycling. Students who are interested in volunteering can reach out to UCF Recycles."
UCF does not permit kegs, glass containers or beer funnels on campus, and Memory Mall closes for tailgating at kickoff so that workers may begin cleaning the area.
"Be cognizant of your trash because it's really easy to just forget about your trash, and if you're wary of where the trash bins are it's easier for you to go and dispose of your trash," Nguyen said.