Just like the marching band and CAM the Ram, Colorado State University’s Zero Waste Team is a fixture at home football games. The student team, largely made up of volunteers, isn’t hard to miss, thanks to its enthusiasm for sports and passion for reducing waste on campus.
It also helps that team members are usually wearing neon yellow vests.
The Zero Waste Team is a student-led group at CSU, working to ensure that waste is properly separated for recycling, composting and the landfill. They’re also educators, spreading knowledge about proper waste management practices to foster a culture of zero waste on campus.
CSU junior Sam Cummings, president of the Zero Waste Team, started his day around 7:30 a.m. outside of Canvas Stadium at the Nutrien Ag Day BBQ last month, working with team members to ensure proper waste management practices. For the Zero Waste Team, Cummings said Ag Day is their Super Bowl because of the influx of waste to sort and the scores of people to educate.
“We love the agriculture school, and they work really hard to be sustainable,” Cummings said. “Ag Day is a great way for (the Zero Waste Team) to be out there. When you think of agriculture, you think about food production, but it goes beyond that. You also have to sort your waste and compost.”
After the Ag Day BBQ, it was on to Canvas Stadium to help sort, and educate people watching the Rams take on Sacramento State.
The team usually patrols the concourses at Canvas Stadium, stopping to give high fives, sort waste and educate fans. Cummings said one item that usually makes it into the recycling bins that needs to be removed are paper coffee cups, as many are coated with plastic.
“It can be difficult to know where things go. However, spending a split second longer thinking about which bin to use makes a big difference.”
— Sam Cummings, president of the Zero Waste Team
“It can be difficult to know where things go,” Cummings said. “However, spending a split second longer thinking about which bin to use makes a big difference.”
After all the sorting, long after the game is over, the Zero Waste Team usually has about a dozen 65-gallon bins ready for compost, which head out to the Windrow Composting Facility on the Foothills Campus. The compost is eventually used on campus and given away to the CSU community during Earth Month in April.
Cummings explained that the Zero Waste Team also supports other athletic events, including volleyball and basketball. They also play a key role in move-in and move-out weeks and have organized e-waste drives, clothing swaps and composting resident hall waste. Because of this, Cummings said, they are looking to secure funding to enhance their efforts.
In addition to football, the Zero Waste Team also supports other campus activities including basketball and in move-in and move-out weeks.
“The Zero Waste Team has had a huge impact on the CSU community by educating students, employees and visitors on how to properly sort waste and raising awareness about the impact of single-use materials at our university events, “said Tonie Miyamoto, director of communications and sustainability for the Division of Student Affairs. “They take on one of the dirtiest jobs on campus with enthusiasm, expertise and purpose.”
At football games, Cummings said the Zero Waste Team usually is finished around 7 p.m., long after the fans are gone. At the end of the day, he said many of the Zero Waste Team members are volunteers who are looking to make a difference.
That’s why they’ll be at this Saturday’s Homecoming game at Canvas Stadium.
“It definitely takes a lot of work,” Cummings said, “but it’s definitely worth it.”
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