green game day

Green and Blue at UConn’s Football Green Game Day

Green Game Day was a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing day for UConn football fans. The Huskies lost a close game on the field, but Mother Earth won outside the stadium where EcoHusky and EcoHouse volunteers, along with Office of Sustainability interns, took to the tailgating fields to collect cans and bottles from fans. Volunteers sporting blue Green Game Day shirts walked among the rows of cars, approaching UConn alumni, Connecticut locals and even some Illinois fans to help make their game day a bit greener. 

Some student volunteers even ventured into the spirited student lot, all in the name of recycling! Unsurprisingly, they emerged with more bags than any other tailgate area. 

In total, the volunteers collected 58 bags of recyclable bottles and cans. 

While most of the volunteers scoured the fields, others staffed the Office of Sustainability tent in the HuskyFest fan zone, quizzing fans on their environmental knowledge and giving out prizes for correct answers. One notable addition to the prize table this year was the new UConn Sustainability Activity Book. Our youngest fans (and a few older ones) jumped at the chance to color and learn. One excited young Husky was heard walking away from the tent exclaiming: “Dad look! Jonathan’s on every page!”

From baby boomers to generation Z, all ages were equal parts enthralled, enthused and stumped by the intern’s questions. At the end of their experience at the tent, all participants had learned something about the environment and UConn’s sustainability efforts. 

Once inside, fans were treated to a recycling PSA from none other than Jonathan the Husky. Likely due to the inspiring recycling video, the Huskies got off to a strong start, scoring the first 13 points. Alas, it was not to last, as Illinois came storming back to win 31-23. 

While UConn’s first loss of the season was disappointing, it can teach us a valuable lesson about recycling: Care for the environment must be sustained, or else we risk losing all our progress. And vice versa: No matter what your habits are, you can always turn it around and become an EcoWarrior.

Green Game Day was a roaring success for all involved. We hope to see you during the basketball season at Gampel, or next year at the Rent!

 

UConn – and Sustainability – Score at This Fall’s Green Game Day

By Natalie Roach

There was something different and exciting about the second home game of UConn’s football season.  For one, it turned out to be UConn’s first win of the season. But more importantly, Husky fans tailgating before the game were greeted by dozens of students in blue and green shirts carrying around trash bags, picking up bottles and cans, and giving out sustainability-themed trinkets.

Who were these students, and why were they at Rentschler Field? EcoHusky members and EcoHouse residents, along with OEP interns, had gotten together for our fall Green Game Day! Each year, the OEP partners with Athletics to educate not only UConn students but also Husky fans from all over Connecticut on the importance of recycling.

Martin Wolek collects cans from Jary Remly, a resident of Storrs. (Lucas Voghell/UConn Photo)

Volunteers walked around the parking lots, interacting with tailgaters while collecting bottles and cans. It was messy work – many shoes were dirtied with mysterious liquids in the process – but that did not dampen the students’ spirit. This year, 2.4 tons of recyclables were collected according to Windsor Sanitation, the most on record from any Green Game Day! Meanwhile, OEP staff and interns stationed at the Green Game Day tent during FanFest quizzed young and old on environmental facts while playing our brand new Plinko game for prizes.

A dedicated EcoHusky member gets his hands (and legs) dirty while digging for recyclables in a dumpster!

Another exciting addition to this Green Game Day event was a recycling PSA video the office created featuring the one and only Jonathan the Husky! In the video, Jonathan teaches you how to recycle by recycling a plastic water bottle himself!  If you haven’t seen it, it is one of the cutest videos you will see all year. It was shown on the Jumbo Tron before the game, and ‘awws’ could be heard throughout the stadium as it played. Check out our Facebook page to see it for yourself!

 

Thanks to our smiling, extremely dedicated, and hardworking volunteers, Green Game Day was a success! A big shout to all who made it possible. We’re looking forward to the next one in February!

Volunteers pose for a picture in high spirits before heading out to volunteer!

 

Meet the OEP Interns: Caroline & Hannah

What could the captain of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team and an avid “Chopped” enthusiast possibly have in common? Besides an uncanny love for all things outdoors (and the ability to binge watch several episodes of a television series), both students are current sustainability interns at the Office of Environmental Policy! In our fourth installment of the ‘Meet the Interns’ blog, we will profile two more remarkable interns, junior Caroline and senior Hannah. Each very different in their current endeavors and career aspirations, Caroline and Hannah are brought together by a genuine passion for sustainability, a unifying trait that makes them both student environmental leaders.

Junior Caroline’s path to the OEP was nothing short of fate. As a first-semester Chemistry major in the Honors Program, Caroline hoped to continue the environmental involvement she had enjoyed in high school, where she won several accolades including the Northeast Resource Recycling Association (NRRA) Innovative Recycling Idea award, the EcoMaine Eco-Excellence award, and the Aquarion Water Company Environmental Champion Award for a compost project she coordinated her senior year. That experience led her to enroll in the one credit UNIV course in Environmental Sustainability taught by the OEP’s Director, Rich Miller. She excelled in the class, often volunteering for extra credit work, like collecting recyclables at Green Game Day – not because she needed the bonus points but because she loved making a difference.

Soon after her first semester and the UNIV course had ended, she was encouraged to apply for an OEP sustainability internship. Determined as she is about many of her goals, Caroline jumped at the chance – and the rest is history! Fast forward two years and we find an experienced, hard-working team player, who considers her internship an opportunity that has undeniably transformed her college experience. She even stayed in Connecticut this past summer and worked part-time hours at the OEP, rather than return home to New Hampshire.
Caroline’s internship has not only fulfilled her college aspiration of continued environmental involvement, but also taught her about sustainability initiatives on campus and the inter-workings of the university as a whole. Whether it’s analyzing data in order to maintain UConn’s top 10 Green Campus national rankings or manning a recycling dumpster at Rentschler Field, Caroline is all about teamwork and helping out wherever she can. In her two years as a sustainability intern, she has become an expert in her focused initiatives, namely the EcoMadness competition and Green Game Days. As a lead intern for both events, Caroline has served on the front lines for UConn community engagement and outreach covering topics from energy and water conservation to proper recycling during football games. She’s excited about traveling to Bonn, Germany for the UN’s Annual climate summit next month, as part of the UConn@COP23 contingent.
Additionally remarkable, is Caroline’s involvement outside of the office. She has previously worked as a ski instructor, and continues to serve as an undergraduate researcher, captain and secretary of the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, and President of a newly created club, the Undergraduate Society of Plastics Engineers. An intern of the coolest proportions, the OEP is incredibly lucky to call Caroline one of their own!

Senior sustainability intern, Hannah, adds to the long list of talented undergraduates working at the OEP, as she is simultaneously earning her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Master’s in Public Policy. While her passion for environmental policy has been long evident, her involvement in campus sustainability initiatives on campus has allowed her to solidify her career aspirations. Prior to her employment at the OEP, Hannah had directed her environmental passions towards EcoHusky, where she led a successful shoe and sneaker recycling drive as an officer in the student organization. After discovering the OEP internship opportunity and successfully receiving a position, Hannah quickly became an involved member of the OEP team. In her time as an intern, Hannah has taken the lead on several initiative, such as: planning student engagement and educational activities for UConn@COP, organizing the first inter-fraternity recycling competition as part of the annual football Green Game Day, assessing grant and fundraising opportunities for the Campus Sustainability Fund, and gathering data in order to complete the survey for the GreenMetric World University rankings, in which UConn has consistently scored among the top five. Along with a select group of 12 UConn students, she traveled in November 2016 to Marrakech, Morocco for the U.N.’s 22nd annual International Climate Summit (COP22) – it was her first time abroad!

Outside of the OEP, Hannah keeps a busy schedule, but not at the expense of academics, as she is a consistent CLAS Dean’s List student. After a year as an officer in EcoHusky, she remains active in the club, is an avid outdoorswoman AND massive “Chopped” fan. Hannah is planning on an environmental career after UConn – the past two summers she interned for Dominion Energy as a Diversity Scholarship Recipient. She worked for Dominion at their environmental lab on the Connecticut coast in 2016 and, this past summer, as an environmental compliance intern at their West Virginia plant. She enjoyed and excelled at her summer jobs, so much so that she will work with them again next summer, as an energy intern, at Dominion’s corporate headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. And while Hannah is clearly on an impressive trajectory towards a career in Environmental Policy, if all else fails, you will most likely find Hannah living her life as a scuba diver recovering lost things.

And there we have it – two more of our fabulous OEP Interns!

Next week, we will meet the final set of interns, the newest members of the OEP’s sustainability team: Sophie, Jon, and myself (Wawa)!
Until then!

 

 

Meet the OEP Interns: Katie

“Opportunity knocks when you least expect it.” For Katie Main, that proverb explains how she rejuvenated her passion about environmental sustainability and jump-started her path to an environmental career. As a sophomore, Katie experienced a couple of ‘reality checks.’ While she had found her place academically as a student in UConn’s Environmental Engineering program, her course load of upper-level math, physics, and chemistry momentarily distanced her from the environmental issues that led to her passion for nature and the environment in the first place, especially growing up as the daughter of a Westchester County parks and conservation employee.

Although her involvement in several environmental initiatives on campus provided her space to exercise her passion, she still craved more. It wasn’t until she heard of the Office of Environmental Policy through her active membership in the EcoHusky student group, that Katie was finally able to find a strong outlet for her passions as part of her college experience.

Intern Katie (left) recycling during Football GreenGame Day

Since joining the OEP intern team in the spring of 2016, Katie has dedicated her time to several sustainability initiatives, including the maintenance of the Sustainability Office’s website and the Greenhouse Gas Inventory, roll-out of the EcoCoin program to reduce plastic bag use at the campus bookstore, and organization of GreenGame Days. Of her responsibilities, GreenGame Days (GGDs) continue to be her favorite projects – these outreach events are a perfect fusion of her interests both inside and outside of the office. As a season-ticket holder for UConn football and lifetime fan of UConn Basketball, GGDs allow Katie to show her UConn spirit while also promoting environmental stewardship to Husky Nation.

Now a senior in Environmental Engineering, where she is a dean’s list student, mentor and member of the Engineering Honors Society, Tau Beta Pi, Katie’s versatility as an OEP intern is always on display. When she is not working on some kind of graphic design (she designed the awesome new GGD logo last year), you can find Katie buried in the Greenhouse Gas Inventory excel spreadsheet or coordinating the rollout of the new UConn Bookstore EcoCoin.

Outside of the OEP office, Katie spends a majority of her time involved in other campus activities, serving as the Treasurer for EcoHusky, an undergraduate research assistant in solar energy, and member of ECOalition, which is a caucus of student environmental leaders. On the off chance she is not doing any of these, you will most likely find Katie snuggled up with her best friend/dog Milo or obsessively planning her future super eco-friendly, and hopefully LEED-certified, home, on AutoCAD and Chief Architect.

And there we have it! The third installment of ‘Meet the OEP Interns.’ Next week, we will meet two more impressive interns, one of whom serves as the President of the Undergraduate Society of Plastics Engineers, and another who is a dual undergraduate/master’s student. Can you guess who?
Until next time!

First Ever Carbon-Free UConn Basketball Games!

carbon-free-certificateEvery spring, volunteers from the EcoHusky student group and EcoHouse learning community come together to raise environmental awareness at Basketball Green Game Days. By teaching fans how to recycle, and collecting bottles at the end of the game, volunteers always play an integral role in making these events “green.” This year’s Green Game Days were special because, for the very first time, the Office of Environmental Policy purchased carbon offsets to make the games carbon-free!

Carbon offsets are credits purchased that represent the reduction of an amount of carbon dioxide emissions. In cases such as powering a basketball game, where it is difficult or impossible to reduce associated emissions, a carbon offset can be purchased to fund the reduction of greenhouse gases elsewhere. This is a great tool for organizations that would like to mitigate their carbon impacts, but when it is not feasible for them to do so directly.

twitter-postWe would like to thank all of our volunteers for their time and enthusiasm. With their help, we were able to collect enough bottles to donate $40 to the Campus Sustainability Fund to support more programs and initiatives to raise environmental awareness. We would also like to thank UConn Athletics for their time and effort to promote sustainability. We greatly appreciate the P.A. announcements, video board slides, and social media posts throughout the events. We look forward to working with you at future Green Game Days!

Women’s Basketball Green Gameday!

1 down, 1 to go: Women’s Basketball Green Game Day was a success! Thanks to everyone who came out to watch the women’s basketball team beat SMU 102-41 for their 30th consecutive win. By coming to this game, viewers supported the school’s athletics and recycling initiatives. Volunteers from EcoHusky and student interns from the Office of Environmental Policy collected the bottles left in the stands, and recycled almost 300 bottles and would have had to recycle more if it weren’t for the help of recycle-savy fans.

Volunteers with all the bottles we collected from the stands after the game
Volunteers with all the bottles we collected from the stands after the game

Volunteers from EcoHusky at Avery Point also came out to support Green Game Day and the women’s basketball team; it was hard to miss them as they handed out tattoos and flyers at the entrances to Gampel Pavilion. Stay tuned for Men’s Basketball Green Game Day on February 22nd as UConn plays SMU!

– Chris

Volunteers from the Avery Point chapter of EcoHusky along with our very own Kerrin Kinnear
Volunteers from the Avery Point chapter of EcoHusky along with our very own Kerrin Kinnear

 

OEP Interns Emily and Eric "man the can" to direct waste and recycling into the correct bins
OEP Interns Emily and Eric “man the can” to direct waste and recycling into the correct bin