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Students prompt recycling efforts

Joseph McMahon | Monday, September 24, 2007

While many of their peers tailgated or slept in before the Michigan State game Saturday, a number of Notre Dame students spent their pre-game hours setting up recycling stations around campus.

The 65 volunteers handed out blue recycling bags and manned recycling stations to collect any recyclables from the tailgates and concession stands that litter campus. Their efforts, which involved working shifts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., were part of the University “It’s easy bein’ green at ND” environmental campaign.

“The fact that 65 students were willing to wake up early and give up their time on a game day really shows the kind of dedication students have to this issue,” said Colleen Kelly, one of the project’s coordinators.

A proposal for the program was submitted the first week of August, and the University responded to the idea. The program was a combination of student and University efforts, with activities coordinated by the Energy and Environmental student task force and the Recycling Center and Business Operations office.

Amy Amoni, director of Project Management for Business, and Patrick O’Hara, manager of Warehouse Service, worked with the students throughout the Saturday efforts, making sure they had all necessary supplies. The students were recruited through Notre Dame’s various environmental groups and dorm environmental commissioners.

Junior Lourdes Long, a student leader of the program, said the recycling efforts set a new standard for University environmentalism.

“This weekend’s effort was the first time the University and students have come together to implement such an ambitious environmental strategy,” she said. “Four dorms [Siegfried, Pangborn, Dillon and Welsh Family] even implemented recycling stations at their concession stands at various spots on campus.”

In addition, blue bags accompanied by fliers detailing what could be recycled, were handed out to all tailgaters in the library parking lot.

“Contamination [or the mixing of recyclables with non-recyclables] was our major fear,” Kelly said. “But most of the tailgaters were very friendly and willing to help.”

Both Long and Kelly had concerns that tailgaters would simply ignore the recycling bins, but this proved unfounded.

“The response from tailgaters was positive and cooperative,” Long said. “They followed the fliers and were just genuinely happy that this issue was being addressed at Notre Dame. Actually, because of them, the program has been recommended for expansion.”

Past student environmental groups have tried to organize similar projects only to receive lackluster University support and hostility from many of the tailgaters.

“This time, the number of students organized, in addition to the support we received from Amy [Amoni] and Pat [O’Hara], really helped legitimize the project,” Long said.

When they meet today, the program’s organizers will analyze the data collected and try to decide how to best expand the program for Notre Dame’s next home game.

“Saturday’s effort was really just a test to see how people would respond and whether or not this program would be feasible,” Kelly said. “Based on the preliminary data, we hope to eventually expand the program across the campus.”