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Trash talking at the wrestling meet

Athletics event will use power of the fans to drive Zero Waste initiative


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January 15, 2016

Wrestling is a minimalist sport, with no elaborate uniforms or equipment.

And the fans at Friday night's Sun Devils wrestling meetThe Sun Devils will host Iowa State at 8 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. will be asked to keep that sentiment in mind by keeping their trash to a minimum.

Arizona State University’s Zero Waste Initiative is partnering with the Sun Devils Athletic Department on a marketing campaign aimed at fans. Signs will remind them to “think before you throw” and volunteers will staff the bins for people who really aren’t sure where to toss that plastic fork.

Lucas Mariacher, program manager for Zero Waste at ASU and an alumnus of the wrestling team, said the meet is a big event and the partnership will raise the profile of both organizations.

Zero Waste has been working for years behind the scenes to cut ASU’s landfill stream two ways, according to Alana Levine, assistant director for Zero Waste. Aversion means the institution tries to produce less waste by buying items that can be reused, recycled or composted. Diversion means actually recycling or composting everything that can be.

The process is a loop, Levine said.

“We look at the life cycle of materials. If we’re going to be recycling our paper, we have to make sure we are buying back recycled paper so we have closed that economic loop,” she said.

One major way that trash is reduced at athletic events is by working with the concessionaire, Sodexo.

“A few years ago we really analyzed the packaging around the hot dog you’re going to buy,” Levine said. “Can they serve chips in a tray that’s recyclable instead of a bag that’s not recyclable?”

She said the Athletics Department has been eager to participate. “We stand side by side with Athletics; we’re not pulling them along,” she said.

Sparky visited the ASU staff barbeque in December, where waste diversion was more than 99 percent.

The initiative has been very successful. Mariacher said that waste is separated and weighed after events. More than 99 percent of the waste produced at the ASU staff barbeque in December was diverted, he said. The record for Wells Fargo Arena was a men’s basketball game last year in which 90 percent of the trash was diverted.

But now the fans are being invited to do their part.

“One of the shifts in our thinking in how we’re approaching Zero Waste is we really want the individual to be activated,” Levine said.

Each ASU team will feature the Zero Waste marketing campaign at one of its signature events this semester. Friday is the wrestling team’s “MMA Night,” featuring wrestling alumni who now participate in the Ultimate Fighting Championship competition.

“Our number one goal is that the behavior transfers to other venues and even to the fans’ personal lives,” Mariacher said. “Maybe you shouldn’t throw away all those recyclable things.”

The other Zero Waste promotional events this spring will be: women’s basketball, 7 p.m. Jan. 22 vs. the University of Arizona; gymnastics, 7 p.m. Feb. 22 vs. the University of Arizona; wrestling PAC-12 championship, 6 p.m. Feb. 27; men’s basketball, 6:30 p.m. March 5 vs. California; baseball, 7 p.m. April 12 vs. the University of Arizona; and softball, 7 p.m. April 23 vs. Oregon.

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