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Campus Race to Zero Waste Tips Off Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Annual Men’s Basketball Game

Part of an eight-week national competition to reduce waste produced on campus

This year’s Campus Race to Zero Waste competition, which runs January 29 through March 25, will tip off on February 1 at Bender Arena with the 9th Annual Sustainability-themed Men’s Basketball game, presented by Official Game Sponsor Airlie Hotel and Conference Center and Airlie Berkshire Farm. 

Attendees will support the AU Eagles as well as spotlight the university’s environmental goals and accomplishments. They also will be able to engage with environmental student organizations, including AU Beekeeping Society, AU Outdoors, Climate Reality Corps, Wonk Trade, Food Recovery Network, PeaceJam, AU’s Sunrise Hub, and the community gardens on main campus and at the Washington College of Law. AU’s Zero Waste team will be on hand to help fans sort their waste into either compost, recycling, or landfill trash bins. The game is planned each year by AU Athletics, Facilities Management's Energy & Engineering and Grounds teams, and the Office of Sustainability. 

“As a continuing source of university pride and school spirit, the Sustainability Awareness Basketball game provides for an entertaining and educational experience for our students and fans to learn about the continual and new advances in sustainability and energy efficiencies across our campus," said Robert Sherman, Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Corporate Partnerships.

AU students receive free admission to the game with an AU ID, and other community members can receive $5 off tickets when using the online coupon code “GREEN23” at checkout.

As the spring continues, join the Office of Sustainability, the Zero Waste Office, and the entire American University community as we participate in the Campus Race to Zero Waste competition. Run by the National Wildlife Federation, the annual eight-week national competition is an opportunity for the AU community to come together to reduce the amount of waste produced on campus.       

The competition focuses on the following categories:

  • Overall diversion – tracked and reported based on weighing the recyclables, trash, and organics produced on campus on a weekly basis.
  • Food organics competition – food waste minimization efforts will be reported on a weekly basis. Last year, thanks to our Compost Crew, AU placed 10th out of 93 universities in this category, and it’s where we expect our stiffest competition from other universities.  
  • Per capita recycling – which ranks universities and colleges based on recyclables per capita reported on a weekly basis.
  • Electronics waste – tracked and reported based on the collection of scrap electronics during a one-month period.
  • Case study – a report will be written about AU’s best practices after the competition and submitted to the competition’s organizers at the National Wildlife Federation.

“The annual Campus Race to Zero Waste competition allows us as a university to make progress toward our goal of achieving zero waste by 2030 and encourages each member of our community to be more thoughtful about the ways we can all reduce waste in our daily lives,” said AU’s Director of Sustainability Megan Litke.

Events to keep an eye out for include a week-long $1 discount for using reusable mugs at the Dav; a clothes-mending workshop at the Makerspace in the library; Office of Sustainability tables with games and giveaways across campus throughout the competition; and an office supply swap for faculty and staff during spring break. More events and opportunities will be announced soon. 

For your part, here are some quick and easy ways to do your part during the competition and throughout the year:

  • Know how to sort your waste on AU’s campus. Check the signs or review our sorting guides. If you’re not sure where something goes, throw it into landfill to keep our compost and recycling free of cross-contamination.
  • Decrease your use of disposable plastics. Invest in a reusable water bottle, utensil set, and/or coffee mug for eating on-the-go.
  • Practice upcycling, reusing, or donating items like school supplies, clothing, and home goods.

As participants in the Campus Race to Zero Waste, AU will compete with colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada. The Office of Sustainability reminds everyone that doing well in the competition depends on the participation of everyone on campus, so be sure to sort your waste properly and to join in on all the planned opportunities and events.

Winners of the competition will be announced on April 27.

To learn more about Campus Race to Zero Waste as well as AU’s sustainability efforts, visit the Sustainability website, sign up for their newsletter, and be sure to follow on Instagram (@thegreenau and @zerowasteau).