by Ezra Austin '19
On Friday, January 12, the EcoReps Greening Athletics group worked with the Princeton Athletics department to host the first ever “Tiger Sustainability Night,” a double-header basketball game with a focus on recycling practices and raising awareness.
The game marked the first major event organized by the Greening Athletics group, a new initiative of the EcoReps, founded last year. Three EcoReps—Taylor Bacon ‘19, Erin Mooz ‘19, and Alie Fordyce ‘19—are leading it.
“We took our inspiration from UPenn, which did these ‘green games,’ with the goal of reducing waste from the game and raising awareness,” said Bacon.
Bacon said the goal of Tiger Sustainability Night was to have a clean recycling stream from the game and to inform the fans about proper recycling practices.
Athletic events pose a particular challenge to the goal of sustainability. In order to achieve zero waste, for example, advanced composting facilities must be available to process compostable items discarded from concession stands.
But Bacon believes another, simpler problem is that many fans and students simply aren’t aware of proper recycling practices. “It takes a lot of effort to really be aware of what is and isn't recyclable and to make the conscious effort to sort things out properly, and because that’s not a mindset that’s particularly pervasive on campus, it’s hard to have clean recycling streams,” said Bacon.
“A lot of times waste just gets left in the bleachers, or the bins overflow so things get mixed up,” she added.
A half-time recycling game during Tiger Sustainability Night sought to inform the audience of proper recycling techniques and combat this issue. Two random fans were chosen to partake in a recycling competition, with a prize for the winner.
“We had 12 items ranging from plastic shells to glass bottles in a pile, and they had 15 seconds to sort them as accurately as possible,” said Erin Mooz, another EcoRep and Sustainability Night organizer.
Bacon noted that Tiger Sustainability Night was particularly geared at raising awareness.
“A lot of the initiatives the Athletics Department has done have been more behind the scenes, like the astro-turf they use or the watering practices, or different things like that,” she said. “But I think this is the first major publicized event surrounding sustainability and athletics.”
After the game, Mooz elaborated on her motivations for getting involved in Greening Athletics.
“I grew up going to University of Colorado sporting events and they really take pride in the sustainability of their athletics,” said Mooz. “They were the first school to have zero-waste football games, which is wild for a state school.”
“They’ve really incorporated sustainability into their school spirit, and I feel like Princeton can follow that example,” she added.
Looking to the future, the EcoReps Greening Athletics group hopes to organize more events aimed at raising awareness for sustainability.
“We have many other sports besides basketball. Baker Rink is another really great facility that we can look into improving the waste system,” said Mooz.
Ultimately, Bacon and Mooz hope that Tiger Sustainability Night is the start of a larger campus conversation.
“I think the real goal will be really integrating with marketing and concessions, and trying to permanently incorporate sustainability into what they do,” said Mooz.