OHIO focuses on making Commencement a Zero Waste event

Athens Beautification Day boasts big results for Zero Waste initiative

April 30, 2015

Behind the excitement and joy of the upcoming Ohio University Commencement activities, the Zero Waste initiative is leading the charge in helping make this a zero waste event.

The Zero Waste Commencement idea was developed to alleviate the significant amount of trash left behind by the large crowds at the event. Zero Waste efforts at Ohio University are a product of the collaboration between Rural Action and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs as part of the Appalachian Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, a program funded by the Sugar Bush Foundation.

“Ohio University's Sustainability Plan has two benchmarks related to waste, and our work with Zero Waste is tying into the work of the Office of Sustainability to meet these benchmarks. It is important that we work to meet, and hopefully surpass, these goals in order to uphold our commitment as a University to sustainability and reducing our impact on the earth,” Kate Blyth, student zero waste coordinator for the Voinovich School, said.

This is the second effort in making the OHIO Commencement a Zero Waste event.  With lessons learned from last year, the initiatives this year include landfill bin removal from the concourse of the Convocation Center where Commencement is held, and instead providing compost and recycling receptacles at Zero Waste Stations with signage to capture and divert all waste from the landfill.

Additionally, participants are encouraged to download the Commencement program to reduce paper waste from printed programs. Zero Waste tweets and video boards will educate attendees about the Zero Waste Commencement, and encourage appropriate waste disposal.  A buffet-style lunch with compostable serviceware will be provided for all Commencement workers, along with Zero Waste education training provided for Commencement workers.  Individual schools hosting receptions after Commencement are also encouraged to contact Blyth to assist in making them Zero Waste events.

“Commencement provides the opportunity for OHIO students to show off their work from their undergraduate and graduate careers, as well as for Ohio University to show its true colors. We hope that our work with Zero Waste at Commencement helps to demonstrate that the University prioritizes sustainability,” Blyth concluded.

In other news regarding the Zero Waste initiative, Athens Beautification Day on Sunday, April 19, 2015 successfully achieved major benchmarks in recovery.  A total of 1090 pounds of waste was collected, with 75 percent of it diverted into compost and recycling streams.  Within the Campus Green activities, 130 pounds was collected, with 92 percent of it recovered and only eight percent going to the landfill.