For the first time in school history the Ohio State Synchronized Swim team is set to host a zero waste event. That event is the season-opening OSU Zero Waste Invitational at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion on Saturday.
The technical events will begin at 10 a.m. and will be followed by solo, duet and trio routines beginning at 2 p.m. In addition to the Buckeyes, athletes from Miami (Ohio), Michigan and Wright State will also be competing.
As a university, Ohio State has embarked on a campus wide effort to go zero waste by 2025. One of the first steps taken by the athletic department was to go zero waste at all home football game which meant diverting at least 90 percent of material from the landfill to either recycling or compost. Through one synchronized swim team member’s efforts, that same process will now play out at every event inside McCorkle this spring.
Tori Baron, an environment, economy, development and sustainability major, took her idea directly to Director of Athletics Gene Smith. With his help, and the help of others within the athletic department, Baron was able to secure McCorkle’s first zero waste event.
I went to an AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference last year and everyone was asking me about our process for zero waste at our football games. They thought it was tremendous that we were able to do that at such a big event. So I thought why can’t we do this at our meets this year? I asked Gene Smith at a meeting and he connected me with Mike Penner (Senior Associate AD for Internal Operations) and Graham Oberly (Sustainability Coordinator for Athletics) and with their help, we were able to get this going.”
“With being a student-athlete and asking to do something this big, I thought it was going to be a struggle,” Baron continued. “But I’m so thankful that everyone who has helped us throughout the process has been so enthusiastic and really wanting this to work. Graham Oberly has really played a huge role in getting this event together.”
What will fans notice differently this year than in years past? McCorkle will get six new zero waste bins which are separated into three compartments for recycling, compost and landfill. The food supplied to the teams and judges as well as food at the concession stands will be served on compostable materials and signage will be in place throughout the building directing fans where to recycle their trash. Volunteers will also be on hand at the bins helping fans determine what is or what is not recyclable.