Recyclers hope to clean up stadium area



By Drew Teague

Tailgating usually leaves aluminum cans and other recyclables covering the lots surrounding Commonwealth Stadium, but one group is trying to change that.

Wildcats Take Out the Trash is a program formed by Tom Gregory, a worker in the recycling area of the Physical Plant. The program has student volunteers who walk around making sure recyclables are collected during tailgating before home games.

With so many fans coming out hours before the game, Gregory knows a large amount of recyclable material will need collecting.

Gregory said he wanted about 40 students to participate in the group but had about 22 volunteer.  About 17 showed up for the game against Akron on Saturday.

Ten locations exist around the stadium, giving tailgaters numerous places to drop their blue bags of recyclables.

“Athletics put us here,” Gregory said. “The guys that run the stadium picked the spots they wanted us to sit at. The people that tailgate want this spot real bad.”

Student volunteers have several perks to working the games and collecting the trash, Gregory said. These perks include pizza from Papa John’s and game tickets for when students are done collecting.

Gregory hopes the program will get  several pounds of recyclable material collected from Saturday’s game against Akron.

“Hopefully we’ll get 2,000 pounds, we got 1,800 last week,” Gregory said. “We’re getting a little better at it as we go.”

After most tailgaters head in to see kickoff, Gregory’s crew is finishing up, collecting the blue bags that parking attendants and Gregory’s crew handed out to tailgaters.

“We have to go around and get it,” he said. “We start picking up the cans right after kickoff, because most people have gone in.”

Kerachel Rieger, a dietetics junior, said most of the collected material is from the crew going around and collecting, but some is from tailgaters bringing it to locations.

“Mostly it’s that we pass out the bags and then we go back and pick them up,” Rieger said. “We tell people it’s just like the trash bags, they leave it out, and we’ll come pick it up. Maybe once or twice we’ll go around with the recycling cans.”

Gregory bought 15 recycle feathers that are 15 feet high and cost about $200 each, but those are not the only expensive thing he bought.

Many tailgaters treat the expensive blue bags, which cost $0.30 each, for recycling as trash bags, Gregory said. If the bag is full of non-recyclable materials, the crew leaves it.

“I left a bunch last week because it had all kinds of spaghetti and meat sauce,” Gregory said. “I’m not doing that.”

When the crew is done collecting the bags of recyclable materials, members then transport them behind Commonwealth Stadium where they wait for city collection at the beginning of the next week.

Wildcats Take Out the Trash will be at the remaining home games this season collecting and helping clean up.

“A lot of people seem to appreciate what we are doing, so they are eager to help out,” Rieger said.

Students wishing to participate in the recycling effort, can go to the employment office inside Scovell Hall to ask for more information.