LAWRENCE – The classic image of volunteers “getting their hands dirty” will take on a new look at Kansas Athletics events this fall. Starting with the University of Kansas football season opener Saturday, Sept. 7, volunteers with the new Rock Chalk Recycle program will help patrons sort their game day trash.
Rock Chalk Recycle, a partnership between Kansas Athletics and KU Recycling, aims to reduce the amount of trash sent to the landfill by recycling and composting a majority of waste at all sports complexes.
For games at Memorial Stadium, that will involve volunteer Waste Ambassadors. To help fans learn the new three-container system for recycling, compost and landfill, volunteer Waste Ambassadors will manage waste stations first on the Hill and at tailgates, then inside Memorial Stadium.
“Waste Ambassadors will play an essential role in keeping waste out of the landfill,” said Jay Loudabarger, assistant athletics director-event services. “These volunteers are the first point of contact to help educate fans about the new system and help us ensure that fans understand KU's commitment to sustainability and how recycling and composting work."
The KU Center for Sustainability is working with campus departments, student organizations and community partners to recruit Waste Ambassadors. Cans for the Community, a nonprofit organization with a recycling presence on football game days for the past several years, will continue to provide volunteers for the new program, and KU Recycling will donate a portion of the aluminum cans collected to them, the proceeds from which are donated by Cans for Community to other area nonprofits. In addition to this partnership, the Student Affairs Office and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee have committed volunteers to the program.
The Center also is partnering with the Department of Applied Behavioral Science, creating synergistic research and learning opportunities for graduate students and KU Recycling staff. The Performance Management Laboratory, directed by assistant professor Florence DiGennaro Reed has developed a best-practices guide for training volunteers and will assess the effectiveness of the program. The Applied Behavioral Economics Laboratory, directed by assistant professor Derek Reed, will also assist Rock Chalk Recycle with assessment and data collection.
"Volunteers play a major role in the success of Rock Chalk Recycle," said Center for Sustainability Director Jeff Severin. "There's a strong commitment to sustainability across campus and Lawrence, and I can't think of a bigger or better opportunity to put that commitment into action. I'm excited for the first game on Saturday, and I'm sure it will generate a lot of energy around Rock Chalk Recycle and our goal to significantly divert waste from landfills to recycling and compost."
More than 40 volunteers have already signed up for the program launch Saturday, but additional volunteers are needed that day and for future games to staff waste stations and assist patrons with sorting recyclable, compostable and landfill items.
Basic training on waste diversion practices will be provided Saturday at the beginning of four-hour volunteer shifts, which start at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit www.rockchalkrecycle.com to sign up or contact program coordinators at email@example.com.