(image from newsdesk.gmu.edu)
What elements make for a great basketball game? Perhaps it is the storyline of a local rivalry: two schools only twenty miles apart meeting for only the twelfth time in history. Since George Mason University entered into the Atlantic 10 Conference this season, the “Revolutionary Rivalry” has begun, and George Washington University Colonials made the short trip to Mason’s Patriot Center this Saturday to battle it out. But, what truly made this game great was the fierce competition and a little bit of trash talk, on and off the court! Saturday marked the first annual Green Game at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, an event designed to promote recycling and composting education while celebrating sustainable living. The Green Game was part of RecycleMania, a nationwide collegiate Game Day Challenge to see which school can produce the least amount of trash.
In partnership with Mason’s Office of Sustainability, volunteers were posted around the stadium to ensure fans placed their trash and recyclables into the correct containers. There were thirteen different areas with two trash cans, two recycling bins, and two composting containers. If a fan correctly sorted their waste into the proper bins, they were congratulated and given a “Caught Green Handed” button to wear. If they accidentally threw an item into the wrong bin, Green Game volunteers could take the opportunity to explain to a fan about what is recyclable or compostable, and about the importance of recycling and diverting waste. For example, all the paper napkins, plates, trays and all food items should have been placed in the composting container, while all plastic cups, utensils, straws and aluminum cans were placed in recycling. When something was incorrectly sorted, gloved Green Game volunteers would reach into the container to pull out the waste and place it into the correct container. Their bravery ensured that the waste was going to go the right place.
Fans in attendance were well-aware of the Green Game festivities. The first 5,000 fans received a George Mason University Green Game 2014 t-shirt made from sustainable materials! Once the crowd was turned green, there was a spectacular time-out game that mixed balling skills with recycling knowledge. Two George Mason student contestants took the court for a layup competition. After each made a layup they had to sort a piece of waste into the correct bin. The first student to do this won a George Mason Office of Sustainability prize package. While the quick game was being played, an announcer informed the audience about interesting and important facts, such as each American creates 40 to 45 pounds of waste every day!
Although the Mason Patriots were unable to pull out a win against the GW Colonials, there was certainly success off the court. After the game, volunteers walked the stadium seats and collected any left trash and recyclables, sorting the waste into the correct bags. All the stadium waste was then brought to a central location to be weighed and placed into the correct receptacles. After the initial count, the conservative estimate is 40-50% of the waste was diverted into recycling or composting! This is a huge reduction and something that both George Mason and George Washington fans can be proud of.
Whether satisfied with the turnout of the basketball game or not, all fans could walk away from Saturday’s game feeling good with the knowledge that their actions made a difference to the environment. Although having volunteers to sort through the trash at every Patriot Center event is not a feasible option, hopefully fans will remember what they learned from the Green Game and make sure that they put their waste into the correct bins next time. In the name of good competition and saving the environment, it is safe to say a little trash talk never hurt anyone.