CU gridiron gets greener

Charmaine Ortega Getz | Boulder Weekly



The next time you’re heading in or out of Folsom Stadium on game day, pay attention to the fact there aren’t any trashcans on the premises. No, this is not some cost-saving measure, and you’re not being asked to haul away your own garbage.


This is about Ralphie’s Green Stampede, where it’s all about zero waste (and we’re not talking about scooping up after our favorite mascot).

There are typically about 30 recycling/composting stations dotted around the stadium where you can slip your emptied refreshment containers. And all but one of the stadium food vendors offer plates, cups, eating utensils and carrying bags made of compostable materials, so there’s little room for confusion.

But just in case you’re wondering, each station has a volunteer who will make it easy and show you what goes where.

“We even take those souvenir plastic pom-poms,” says Katherine Stuart, the wrangler for the Green Stampede volunteers.

Stuart works for the CU Environmental Center, a campus facility that’s been around since Earth Day debuted in the United States more than 40 years ago.

This is the third year of Ralphie’s

Green Stampede, the zero-waste effort that focuses specifically on athletic events. And while the campus ROTC unit still does the cleanup in the stands after games, the Stampede is about getting the fans involved in a proactive effort.

Besides the recycling stations, look out for the information table with all the colorful visual aids to give you pointers on recyclables.

“That one, we’re still looking for regular volunteers to handle the questions,” says Stuart. “We’ve only got enough people to handle the stations, usually, and I’m running around so much I don’t even have time to follow the games.”

Once the recyclables leave the stadium, they are headed for the CU Recycling Center, also one of the nation’s oldest such campus facilities, founded in 1976.

During the 2009-10 academic year, CU Recycling stepped up into an Enhanced Dual System collection process that is able to accept its widest range of recyclables ever. The center offers a shredding service to CU departments and is even accepting things like wooden pallets, old cell phones and dead batteries.

The facility offers more than a way to process stuff; it also provides opportunities for students to learn the recycling business as volunteers through the work-study program or while earning academic credit.

“Even with the market being down last year, we made a little more than $50,000 just from the sale of the recyclables,” says Jack DeBell, development director of CU Recycling. “For the academic credit, we work with a number of different disciplines, although the School of Business leads. But wherever you’re coming from, it’s a great way to make a difference with your degree.”

All in all, CU’s green efforts are ensuring that little goes to waste on campus — and, yes, that includes the waste generated by Ralphie, the CU mascot. Even that is composted.

For more information, visit the Environmental Center’s website at php.