Zero Waste-OSU Spring Game

When I talk to people about Zero Waste efforts there are basically two reactions. “That’s so cool!” and “What did you screw up to have to do that job?” As I’ve said before, I think I have the coolest job in the world. Do I dig through bags of garbage? Sometimes. Is it gross? Most times. But here’s my question to you. Why aren’t you doing the same thing?

And now I’m about to get on my soap box….Food waste has a bad rap. Consider the name “waste”. Food waste is actually a RESOURCE and a great solution to so many environmental problems. By composting and preventing food waste from going to the landfill, I am helping preserve air quality, natural resources, build healthy soil, reduce trucks on the road, prevent methane creation to name a few. I think about parents that want to invest in their children’s future and most times that looks like sending their children to good schools or paying for a college education. Aren’t I doing the same thing? Ensuring the future? Think about actions you can take in your life to create positive change for others in many years to come.

With that, I want to take you for a little behind the scenes action on what Zero Waste looks like for the Sodexo Dining Team at the Ohio State University. So let’s set the stage. It’s Spring Game about mid fifties but it feels like 40….at least to me. A lacrosse game is first so gates open at 10:30 am and the Spring Game is scheduled to start at 1:30.

I arrive at the Shoe around 8 to check everything out. As always, the OSU Athletic Facilities Team has all the infrastructure in place and ready to go. What does that mean exactly? The OSU Facilities Team ensures that all the dumpsters and compactors are in place at the right time and picked up accordingly. The compost and recycle containers are set up in the suites and throughout the stadium. Smitty, Don, Pete and the team rock!!

The Sodexo team ensures the correct containers are at all the concession stands and educates the 600+ non-profit group staffed concessionaires. This sounds simple but there is a tremendous amount of preparation.

Corey Hawkey, OSU Sustainability Office and leader of the OSU Zero Waste program, is organizing his team of volunteers in the concourses to educate fans about separating their waste into composting and recycling. It takes a concerted effort by everyone on the team to make Zero Waste happen!

These are the Zero Waste containers used in the suites and club level.
East Richland Christian School (ERCS) set up their own compost/recycling system in their concession stand to capture their waste stream. ERCS is one of the non-profit groups that work in the concession stands to raise money for their organization. They drove 130 miles to get to Columbus.
Education about separation procedures that we use in the concession stands.
The Sodexo team goes through every bag of compost to ensure there is no contamination from the concession stands, suites and stadium kitchens. It's tedious but worth it!
We collected seven totes of compost that went to Price Farms to be composted. I took the picture before we filled the last container. I promise I can count! =)
We donate any food items that meet food safety standards to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank for distribution to the Columbus area food banks to feed the hungry.

For hours, I walk the stadium and tour the kitchens, suites and concession stands speaking with employees about compost and recycling to make sure they understand expectations and the importance of their participation. I’m not alone in these efforts either. All the members of the Sodexo team are doing the same thing as they go about their other duties as well. I have to take a moment to recognize my fabulous dumpster diver friends – Molly Kurth, Nicole Hartner, Vickie Graves and Danny Phillips. It’s good to know there is someone right next to you that will laugh histerically at your misfortune of getting smacked in the face with nacho cheese. No, seriously. That stuff really happens. And it’s good to laugh about it with friends. =)

I would like to thank Corey Hawkey (OSURecycles on Twitter) for the cover photo I used for this blog post.

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