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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Keep campus clean after football games

Gamedays are here again.

I love waking up to body paint smeared in the bathroom, a terrifying amount of strangers in my town and cars parked on my sidewalks.

Tens of thousands of football fans from far and wide gather at The Swamp to cheer on their team.

I thank them for their enthusiasm and their ticket payments.

But what is UF left with once the game is over?

Well, a win, we hope, but that's beside the point.

Up to 10 tons of extra waste are generated from the stadium, while four more tons of extra litter can be found on our campus.

That is nearly 23 tons of extra waste for each home game.

Homecoming weekend, which is Nov. 4-6 this year, can generate between 28 to 30 tons of extra litter and trash. Even more staff and time are required for Gator Growl. So while you're enjoying the parade, pay attention to what you're throwing away.

Most of the trash consists of food and drink products. More than four tons of cardboard and beverage containers are thrown away during each home game weekend.

Is it fair that UF will be ransacked and trashed on seven out of 12 game weekends this year?

Think of the additional employees and hours the Grounds Department has to supply to pick up after the more than 90,000 fans. We have the serious luxury of a dedicated staff that helps keep UF looking as prestigious as it should be.

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There has got to be some serious Disney magic that goes into whipping the campus into shape; mounds of trash just disappear overnight and the campus sparkles once more. Try not to take advantage of that.

Instead of drowning in piles of refuse, let's make sure our bottles and cans make their way into the proper recycling bins. Better yet, invest a couple of dollars in a reusable bottle that you can use all year long.

As of this February, UF has saved about 154,000 12-ounce bottles of water. Those water fountains with the bottle refill stations are really working, so please keep using them.

The Neutral Gator Initiative took UF's athletics program and made it carbon neutral. The entire campus will be carbon neutral by 2025, UF President Bernie Machen said in his speech on Earth Day in April.

"If you threw a dart anywhere on our campus map, you would likely hit an area touched by our sustainability efforts," Machen said.

It's up to all of us to join our staff in this mission. Acting with sustainability in mind does not mean trying to preserve the world how it is; instead, it means changing the way we behave in order to extend our planet's future.

I'd like to point out that with the world's current pattern of resource use, we will require the equivalent of two planet Earths by 2030. Harnessing the sheer amount of people who are normally at UF  - and the increased amount of people here on gamedays - should be the first step toward being an example for other large universities.

Machen also mentioned that the University Athletics Association hopes to accomplish its goal of a zero-waste stadium by 2013. That's an amazing step forward for UF, and I hope we can reach it. Anything is possible with the correct attitude.

There's no reason our orange and blue can't add a touch of green to the mix. I love seeing The Gator Nation crush its opponents on the field. I'd love it even more if we could team up together and crush our waste output.

Sami Main is a journalism junior at UF.

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