Fans attending home games at Folsom Field are used to composting and recycling at tailgates and inside the stadium. They may not realize with these simple acts they are playing a part in being "the greenest athletics program—college or pro—in the country," said Dave Newport, CU Environmental Center director.
When Ralphie’s Green Stampede was founded in 2008, it made Folsom Field the first Zero Waste football stadium in the nation. This Homecoming weekend, the program is celebrating a decade of supporting Buffs fans in making sustainable choices inside and outside the stadium, while also continuing to pioneer a sustainable athletics program.
It was thanks to the energy and efforts of students and the receptivity of CU Athletics leadership that the partnerships that underpin Ralphie’s Green Stampede were born, according to John Galvin, director of stadium operations who works to keep Folsom Field "green" year-round.
"A successful Zero Waste program requires a team effort and numerous hours of collaboration from all partners. The staff, students and volunteers that support this project are incredibly passionate and are the reason I stay motivated in my position," said Angela Gilbert, Zero Waste events manager, who works closely with Galvin and CU Athletics.
Sorting all of the waste after a game takes four to six hours overall, but is a critical part of the Zero Waste process.
"If the compost we send out is too contaminated, it gets rejected and has to go into the landfill," Gilbert said.
By noon the day after the game, Folsom Field looks just as it did before game day.
Besides the Zero Waste program, other factors contribute to being the greenest athletics program in the country, including carbon footprint, water use, food waste, use of pesticides, number and rating of LEED buildings, fan engagement and ultimately community impact. Through the Green Sports Alliance, which CU Athletics helped to found in 2011, the Buffs compete with other Pac-12 schools in all of these categories.
The Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 27, is also Sustainable Game Day, in which the diversion rate—the amount of refuse that leaves the stadium as compost and recycling, rather than trash—on that day is the score that CU receives in the Pac-12 Zero Waste Bowl. Join Ralphie’s Green Stampede in getting your compost and recycling in the right bins, and help the Buffs beat the rest of the Pac-12 in the Zero Waste Bowl.