Sep 062007
Authors: Margaret Canty

Trashed with cans, wrappers, bottles and waste, the deserted parking lot at Hughes Stadium has a much different feel the morning after a big game than it does the night before.

It will take CSU’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Program (ISWMP) almost eight hours to pick up the near 50 cubic yards of waste, created in just the few hours of tailgating before a showdown.

Jeff Stoddart, a truck driver for the ISWMP, has seen the leftover waste first hand.

“There’s trash everywhere. Bottles, beer cans, soda cans,” the senior natural resource management major said. “It looks like a hurricane came.”

Most of the waste left after a big game will go straight to a landfill, regardless of whether or not it can be recycled.

In an effort to reduce the amount of trash left behind this football season and keep CSU green, the ISWMP, with help from students, is working to make recycling easier and tailgates less wasteful. Last season, yellow recycling barrels were placed below each lamppost in the lot and outside stadium doors.

Sheela Backen, manager for ISWMP, said those who clean up the parking lot don’t have time to sort through to see what’s recyclable. She hopes the yellow bins will encourage more students to recycle and sort their own trash.

“We need to quit being a throw away society, and we need to reuse,” she said. “We only have one earth and we’re eventually going to use all our natural resources.”

Besides using the now available recycling bins, there are other ways to make tailgating more earth friendly.

Lauren Dublizig, a representative for O-I Inc., the largest global supplier of glass packaging, suggests using recycled napkins, plates and silverware.

Also, just as any true tailgater knows, it’s never too early for a burger. And grilling can be “earth-friendly” too. Rob Carey, a supervisor at REI, suggests using propane powered grills over charcoal. He also recommends composting, or putting used paper plates, cups and food waste in a bin and using bugs or worms to biodegrade them, creating a nutritious soil.

“Composting will decrease your amount of waste and makes a very nutritional soil,” he said. “You can add that soil to your garden and use it to grow tomatoes for next year’s tailgate.”

Tawny Duckworth, the demo specialist for Whole Foods on College Avenue, suggested purchasing hard wood charcoal and vegetable based lighter fluid. Re-usable utensils can also be purchased at Whole Foods, along with eco-friendly plates and bowls.

And when it’s time to tap the keg, Whole Foods and most other natural foods stores offer corn fiber cups, which are 100 percent recyclable.

And recycling doesn’t have to stop after the game, Backen said. CSU currently has recycling containers in every building on campus and recycles 56 percent of waste, an improvement from previous years. The university also came in third in waste minimization and tenth in overall recycling in last year’s Recycle Mania, a recycling contest involving over 200 schools across the United States.

With all the recycling possibilities CSU and Fort Collins offer, Stoddart believes the next step is awareness.

“It’s all about knowing what can be recycled and where,” he said. “The more aware you become, the easier it will be and the more you’ll do it. And that’s what we’re trying to do; make it easy.”

Staff writer Margaret Canty can be reached at

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