‘Fighting Illini, Fighting Waste’ event helps UI recycle

By Jacob Slabosz, Staff Writer

Fans at Monday’s basketball game against Monmouth could see a plethora of volunteers donning bright green T-shirts carrying blue bags filled with cans and bottles. 

The volunteers, which were located around the upper concourse at State Farm Center and stationed at each entryway, aided the “Fighting Illini, Fighting Waste” event which was coordinated in conjunction with representatives from the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and Coca-Cola.

The event sought to establish more convenient recycling locations within the facility to better tackle the waste produced by the fanfare. By collecting clean cardboard, plastic bottles and aluminum cans, the materials which Facilities & Services is able to recycle onsite, the team managed to divert 280 pounds of waste from landfills — 10.6% of all waste produced that night, according to Daphne Hulse, zero waste coordinator at Facilities & Services.

Hulse, the visionary of the event, explained that the efforts help make strides towards goals in the Illinois Climate Action Plan, more commonly known as iCAP. 

Specifically, the event targeted objective 5.2: “Reduce the total campus waste going to landfills from 5,049 tons in FY19 to 4,544 tons or less in FY24, which is a decrease of at least 10%.”

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“In partnership with Coca-Cola, the University of Illinois is pursuing a ‘Don’t Waste’ campaign to holistically advance the effort to increase recycling and decrease waste across campus,” Hulse said. “‘Fighting Illini, Fighting Waste’ is our first high-visibility zero waste event that was formed at our weekly ‘Don’t Waste’ meetings with Coca-Cola.”

With Tuesday being America Recycles Day, the Monmouth game was chosen to increase community awareness for the observation as it was the day before.

Shreya Mahajan, junior in Engineering, was responsible for leading the volunteers that distributed free T-shirts and tote bags to fans who recycled. 

“I chose to volunteer for this event because I believe it is such a great cause that showed our community the importance of recycling,” Mahajan said. “It was a great event all around, and I especially loved the atmosphere it created. It was amazing being around other excited participants wanting to help make the university more sustainable.”

According to Hulse, students looking to get involved with zero waste operations at the University should reach out to the Student Sustainability Committee or contact Hulse directly to join the Zero Waste iCAP Team composed of students, faculty and staff.

“It is far better for a community of people to pursue zero waste imperfectly than a few individuals doing it perfectly,” Hulse said. “The ‘Fighting Illini, Fighting Waste’ event is a step in this direction, and we hope that it serves a springboard for future endeavors.”


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