2023 All Together Green Facilities Management News Sustainability

Green Game Waste Diversion Audit 2023

The 2023 Green Game was held on January 25, 2023, during the George Mason Patriots Women’s Basketball team vs. University of Rhode Island game. With the help of 21 volunteers, who completed 66 hours of service learning, Mason successfully achieved an 84.2% diversion rate, or the portion of weight not sent to the incinerator, (i.e., 41.6% compost and 42.6% recycling) through a post-game waste audit. Tracking the diversion rate is a great way to measure the effectiveness of reuse, recycling, and composting programs.

Each Green Game is aimed at achieving a “zero waste” basketball game, which means 90% or more of all the waste produced during the game is diverted from arena trash bins through green purchasing, composting, or recycling. Mason’s Green Game is an initiative to grow the University’s culture of sustainability at a “zero waste” basketball game. The Green Game enhances zero waste awareness, showcases the essential work of Mason’s recycling, dining, and housekeeping staff, and highlights composting as an essential part of University Sustainability’s institutional zero waste strategy.

University Sustainability partners with Mason Athletics, EagleBank Arena Operations and Events, Mason Dining (Sodexo), V&G Cleaning SVSC, Facilities Recycling and Waste Management, and volunteers to achieve our zero waste goal. Green Game was established in 2014, during George Mason University’s first Atlantic 10 Conference season. Green Game serves as Mason’s official entry into the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Race to Zero Waste (CR2ZW) Game Day Basketball competition.

Since 2014, Mason’s Green Game initiative has diverted 10,899 pounds of waste from incineration, supported experiential learning opportunities for over 330 volunteers, engaged over 37,475 basketball game attendees in zero waste practices, and achieved a top ten ranking in Campus Race to Zero Waste’s Game Day Basketball competition 11 times. In addition to increasing Mason’s waste diversion rate, our 2023 entry into the Game Day Basketball competition encouraged our campus community’s confident engagement in zero waste practices by providing service-learning opportunities for all Mason community members to participate. The CR2ZW competition provided University Sustainability with the opportunity to co-create zero waste outreach and engagement materials with volunteers, staff, and attendees who shared their feedback and experiences sorting at the bin.

Mason students, faculty, staff, alums, and non-Mason-affiliated members of the public, joined together to support the efforts of the partners at this year’s Green Game. Volunteers helped set up centralized waste disposal locations (i.e., co-located waste, recycling, and composting bins), provided at-the-bin education, and performed a waste audit post-event. “We had volunteers stationed at almost every waste station, resulting in more correct sorting behavior before we collected waste, and more efficient use of our time during the post-collection sorting process,” said Gregory Farley, Director of University Sustainability. The post-game audit produces real-time data about waste behaviors, helping University Sustainability and Mason Facilities make operational and logistical decisions to improve Mason’s overall waste diversion rate and campus recycling system. Mason student volunteers earned service-learning and volunteer hours for their participation, and eligible employees used their School Assistance and Volunteer Service Leave to join, an opportunity made possible through partnership with the Human Resources’ Faculty and Staff Engagement Team.

Nearly every foodservice item offered by EagleBank Arena’s concessions during the Green Game was recyclable or compostable. During Green Game, compost bins are organized around the arena in co-located stations with recycling and trash bins to support the arena’s transition to green purchasing and promote access to this new waste streams.

According to the University Sustainability Team, “Although we were just short of reaching our 2023 Green Game zero waste goal (90%), we successfully raised awareness about Mason’s actions to phase out single-use plastics on campus, provided hands-on learning for navigating compostable and recyclable food service ware alternatives, piloted Green Game’s first PPE recycling and hard-to-recycle initiative, as well as supported zero waste signage improvements by testing out bilingual bin labels at the game.”

Story and Photo Credit: Benjamin Auger and Colleen Regan