Yale University, with the help of Bulldog Sustainability, Faces Off in the 2011 EPA Game Day Challenge

January 18, 2012

For its second year, Yale University competed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Game Day Challenge on Saturday, November 5. According to the EPA site, EPA Game Day Challenge is “a friendly competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games.” Bulldog Sustainability, along with the Student Taskforce for Environmental Protection (STEP) and Yale Facilities, determined to compete at the Yale Brown game against 85 universities and colleges this year. The EPA site also states, “This Challenge is an initiative of EPA’s WasteWise program. During the challenge, colleges and universities implement waste reduction programs during home football games. Schools track and report waste reductions and disposal data that is used to rank the schools.”

Bulldog Sustainability is made up of Yale students and athletics staff dedicated to making athletics more sustainable by striving to have a positive impact on the environment by restructuring internal operations and facilitating sustainable behavior. Last year, over 90 schools participated, ultimately stopping the release of over 940 metric tons of carbon dioxide through their collective waste reduction efforts.

Universities compete in five different categories: waste generation, diversion rate, greenhouse gas reduction, recycling, and organics reduction. In December, the EPA will declare a winner in each individual category. Last year, Yale fared best in the waste generation category, having the 26th (out of 74) lowest per capita waste generation and, in the process, beating Ivy League rival Harvard in this category.

In preparation for the 2011 Challenge, Bulldog Sustainability organized a wide array of promotional efforts to increase visibility for the day, including video messages by senior varsity athletes Michelle Cashen and Erin Carter, captains of the women’s basketball team and field hockey team, respectively, and both members of Bulldog Sustainability, and quarterback Patrick Witt and captain Jordan Haynes, both seniors on the Yale Football team. Informational e-mails regarding recycling and waste reduction were sent to fraternities and sororities that were sponsoring student tailgates; and over 40 posters and three large banners advertising the Challenge and the efforts of Bulldog Sustainability were dispersed throughout tailgate areas and the Bowl.

The strong pre-Challenge efforts set the tempo for the day itself. With seven workers from Bulldog Sustainability and eleven workers from STEP, the Yale community was ready to better the results of last year’s EPA Game Day Challenge. Before, during, and after the game, this combined team oversaw composting efforts, encouraged proper waste disposal at the student tailgates, collected recycling in the Yale Bowl, and handed out nearly 500 stickers reminding fans to recycle. The team’s efforts throughout the day were accompanied by messages on the Bowl’s electronic screen, announcements through the Bowl’s speakers, and educational pages and flyers dispensed in the programs and ticket envelopes.

The increased efforts both prior to and during the actual event ensured Yale’s success in the EPA Game Day Challenge. While the relative standings of schools have not yet been released, Yale, compared to last year, improved in three out of the five categories, including waste generation, diversion rate, and organics reduction.