Tailgating: beer, barbecue and… recycling?
But it’s true. For the third year in a row, a group of dedicated volunteers, mostly from the group Sustain Mizzou, an MU student environmental awareness group, will be teaching tailgaters how to recycle. And having some fun while they’re at it.
“We’re all pretty passionate about it,” said Tom Stokely, a sophomore environmenal science major from Springfield who became active in Sustain Mizzou during his first semester here. “Last year, we averaged about 15 volunteers before and after each game. This year, we’re hoping for 20 a game. But it’s the dedication of our volunteers, not the numbers that count.”
The program works like this: volunteers from the program go to each group and hand out bags. This is the most important part, according to Stokely. If fans don’t have bags, they are going to throw their recyclables in the trash, he said.
During the game, the recycling group routinely checks the 250 recycling bins stationed around the parking lots. After the game, they collect the bags from the fans and also collect all the extra litter scattered across the pavement.
“A lot of people look at us like we’re the cleaning crew, but we’re just volunteers,” Stokely said. “When you go to the games, you see how much recyclable material is thrown away. It’s amazing how much we can keep out of the landfills.”
After the collection, all of the recyclables are taken to a spot near Landscape Services, where it is then picked up by the city.
Last year, the group recycled more than 19 tons of glass, aluminum and plastic over the course of the season. The volunteers worked 796 hours total just helping out at the tailgates, Stokely said.
But their efforts are going to more than just recycling at the games. The volunteers also hope to educate tailgaters about recycling.
“We hope people can take the program with them and incorporate it into their lives,” Stokely said.
Tiger Tailgate volunteers are working at all Mizzou home football games, scheduled for Sept. 15, Sept. 22, Oct. 6, Oct. 20, Oct. 27, and Nov. 10.