UIW Wins Sustainability Award for Green Game

June 14, 2022
Clarissa Gauna (left) and Danielle DeCotis smile in front of the McDermott Convocation Center

The University of the Incarnate Word, as a participant in the Campus Race to Zero Waste competition, won the GameDay Basketball category for its Green Game initiative, which occurred during the spring semester at a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader. After 386 attendees generated 147 pounds of total waste and diverted more than 123 pounds away from the waste stream into composting and recycling, UIW placed first with the highest per-capita diversion rate of 83%.

"Students and guests from the broader community were asked to recycle and compost as much material from the game as possible in a fun environment, while learning about the benefits of recycling and sustainable lifestyles during trivia games,” explained Dr. Ben Miele, coordinator of Sustainability Studies and chair of the Sustainability Advisory Board. "This was UIW's first time competing with other schools, and students are eager to build upon this success next year."

Several departments on campus helped with the sustainability efforts of the game. The Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability worked with the School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering to measure and verify how much material was diverted from the waste stream during the game. The College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences worked with Compost Queens, a local business dedicated to diverting food scraps from landfills to local farms, to help educate attendees and facilitate composting efforts. Campus partners Aramark, UIW Athletics and the Office of Communications and Brand Marketing also worked closely with the Ettling Center in the logistical and marketing efforts surrounding the initiative.

Campus Race to Zero Waste is the nation’s premier waste reduction and recycling competition among colleges and universities and is organized by the National Wildlife Federation. For this event, UIW students joined more than 3.6 million peers across the country in a competition to reduce their campus-waste footprint through minimization efforts like donating, composting and recycling more than 27.9 million pounds of waste.

The Green Game is one of several composting initiatives at UIW that promotes sustainability, shared Miele, including paper towel and dining hall composting.

"[Paper towel composting] has diverted 50 pounds of paper material from the Nursing building in one semester, while [dining hall composting] diverts over 600 pounds of food waste from the landfill each semester."

Students are then able to use the compostable materials in community gardens, as part of research, and in their own composting efforts. Each of these efforts not only helps in the beautification of campus gardens, but through these efforts, less material is sent to waste facilities, added Miele. He is excited about the future of sustainability at UIW.

"In combination with the City of San Antonio awarding UIW the Silver Certification as a Sustainable Business on Feb. 5, the first-place finish in GameDay Basketball caps a banner year for sustainability at UIW and promises more good things to come in the fall and beyond."