The University of Wyoming Department of Athletics and the Campus Sustainability Committee scored a victory of their own at the UW men’s basketball game against New Mexico Feb. 25: a successful “waste-less” athletic event and launch of the Conservation Cowboys initiative.
The Conservation Cowboys initiative aims to reduce waste and resource use at athletics facilities and events.
“Trash Talkers” — student, staff and faculty volunteers — helped fans sort recyclables from waste materials inside the Arena-Auditorium. Their efforts resulted in the diversion of 266 pounds of the total 659 pounds of waste materials from the landfill — a 40 percent diversion rate.
A total of 35 volunteers from eight student organizations and four operational and academic units participated in the waste-less event. The Sustainability Club, the Student Dietetics Association, ACRES Student Farm and the Energy Resources Club rallied the most student volunteers. Each student group received a stipend for its efforts, thanks to a grant from Rocky Mountain Power, which additionally provided game-day support for volunteers.
“The game is just the latest demonstration of student enthusiasm for waste reduction efforts across the UW campus since the Sustainability Club and Sustainability Coalition piloted zero-waste event guidelines at the 2016 Shepard Symposium,” says Meghann Cranford, Campus Sustainability Committee student communications intern. “Student group collaboration will be essential for the ongoing Conservation Cowboys effort.”
The pilot game allowed the Campus Sustainability Committee to identify areas for improvement in the future, including when and where to place volunteers; the need for permanent and uniform recycling bins and signs; and the exploration of large-scale composting to allow diversion of food waste and concessions to-go items from the landfill.
“Just as a team never celebrates one win for too long, the Conservation Cowboys are already looking ahead to see how they can use what they learned from this game to spearhead a waste-less football game in the fall,” Cranford says.