Sporting events create recycling opportunities

Bottles and cardboard boxes are abandoned by their consumers after UNA’s football game against the Florida Institute of Technology Sept. 26 in Braly Stadium. Many times, fans leave behind recyclable items.

Cleaning Braly Municipal Stadium after about 10,000 fans have left their mark is a big task, especially when many items are recyclable.

About half of the waste left behind after games is recyclable, said stadium manager Trace Hendrix, who is in charge of cleaning before, during and after events in Braly.

“Anything made from paper or any of the bottles (sold in the concession stand) can be recycled,” Hendrix said. “The bottles are easily one-third of what’s out there, sometimes half.”

The bottles, plastic containers, cans and napkins are examples of recyclables fans leave behind.

After football games, the cleaning process usually takes plenty of helpers and a lot of time, Hendrix said.

“Since it’s so late on Saturdays, we usually pick up Sunday morning,” Hendrix said. “We spend about half a day cleaning up in the stadium and cleaning Spirit Hill.”

Hendrix said many people leave their waste behind without a second thought of disposing it in a recycling bin.

“There are plenty of trash cans throughout the stadium,” Hendrix said. “If nothing else, there are all kinds of different cans in the concourse. I put them in the breezeway where people can throw their trash away on their way out.”

Americans throw away about 2.5 million plastic bottles per hour, according to Recycle Across America. If the amount of items recycled in the U.S. ever reached 75 percent, it would be the environmental equivalent of removing about 50 million cars from the road.

Half of the waste abandoned after basketball and volleyball games in Flowers Hall are recyclable, said UNA custodian Jordan Peck, who cleans the gym after games.

“There are only two recycling bins that I know of in the building,” Peck said. “If we were to recycle all of the bottles, even just from Coach (Bobby) Champagne’s kids camp alone, we’d have to have another bin.”

Peck said it would be good for Flowers Hall to encourage fans to recycle their bottles and plastic containers as they leave the gymnasium.

“I’ve seen many people throw an empty bottle in the trash,” he said. “It would be so much better if we had more than two recycling bins for the games. I think if fans were to see them, they would use them.”

Peck said he appreciates many faculty members on campus who are advocates for the environment.

“A lot of the professors here are big on recycling,” Peck said. “One professor came to the wellness center to work out, and she didn’t like the fact that the recycling bin was being blocked by a trashcan.

“She went out of her way to move it to the side so people could see the recycling bin. She even started going through and pulling stuff out of the recycling bin that did not need to be recycled.”

Senior Destiny Cole practices recycling on a daily basis and said she believes every bit counts in helping the environment.

“We take out our recyclables twice a month where I live,” Cole said. “We recycle plastic and cardboard. In order for us to keep the world in any kind of good shape, our generation needs to recycle.”

Freshman Austin Yarbrough said he is more likely to practice recycling at sporting events if bins were visible.

“It would be more convenient for fans to recycle if there were more recycling bins around the stadium,” he said. “I think it would catch the eyes of fans better. It’s a great way to help out the earth.