Nobody is willing to explain why they would not throw their trash in one of the bins around campus during game day.
Perhaps, they are too intoxicated to care or know someone is walking around to clean it up anyways.
The Clean Up
If so, they are right. Someone does have to walk around to clean up, and it is not your mom. So if it isn’t your mom? Who is it?
“There are a lot of moving parts to make sure the stadium and campus return to their natural setting following a football game,” said Matt Brachowski, Associate UGA Athletic Director for Event Management.
UGA Athletics hires a third-party company, American Servco, Inc. (ASI), to take care of the stadium and campus clean up process after the game.
The main areas of clean up focus are the parking lots, sidewalks, walkways, and open green spaces, according to ASI.
“This is hard work. It requires some serious sweat,” said Brandon Lane, Director of Operations for ASI.
Lane puts together the clean up team, with over 200 roles to fill.
“Initially, it was very challenging to put together the number of folks required to get things done,” said Lane. “Once we found our team, I would say we have pretty much 90% of the same folks from when we really got rolling.”
Naturally, more trash is produced throughout the day for night games, but Lane does not mind! While night games produce more waste than day games, the key to keeping the campus beautiful and watersheds clean ultimately depends on whether the waste ends up in the proper bin.
“Folks gotta enjoy a tailgate! Just as long as they put their debris in the provided trash bags and cardboard trash cans!” said Lane.
The problem is that not all of the debris ends up in trash and recycle bins.
When trash ends up outside the receptacle, the container that once held your game day drink, could be floating around inside of your future drink. Trash ends up in the nearby watersheds…which lead to the Oconee River…where we get our water…
Lane from ASI stressed that the clean up process starts when the person generating the debris decides to throw it out or throw it into the breeze. Trash floats down the watersheds before his crews can get to it.
“We want to do our part to help out the environment. Recycling efforts are greatly enhanced when items go in the right bins,” said Lane.
Once again, your mom is also not wading around the Oconee River to clean up after you. However, members of Watershed UGA have cleaned up the on-campus watersheds, like Tanyard Creek, in previous years after game days.
Last year they did a clean up after one of the home games, and they pulled out 65 pounds of trash, according to Tyra Byers, Sustainability Specialist at the UGA Office of Sustainability. This is the average weight of 70 soccer balls.
For the following home game, they lined the stream with recycle bins and walked around the area to share water education with tailgaters. They cleaned up again after the game and still collected 45 pounds of trash. Excellent…a few less soccer balls worth of trash… Every bit counts though!
“It is pretty remarkable the quantity that is up in there, some of it is washing down and some of it is just from the areas people tailgate along Tanyard,” said Byers.
This year, they cleaned up Tanyard Creek, which runs from Bolton Dining hall to under Sanford Stadium leading to the Oconee River.
She isn’t your personal maid, but Watershed UGA intern, Madison Crosby, has collected her fair share of trash.
“You really can’t believe someone is that careless, reckless, and blatantly disrespectful. It is kind of heartbreaking seeing it,” said Crosby.
She applauds the maintenance crew at ASI and explained how they can’t do everything. Remember complaining to your mom about cleaning up after your family? Now think about the clean up from 93+k people eating, drinking, and being merry before the game. Yeah, it is hard to get all of it.
“You want to have pride in a beautiful campus. It is not necessarily [ASI’s job] to pick up things that you don’t discard properly,” said Crosby.
Crosby also pointed out that the ASI crews do not necessarily know about your off the beaten path, super secret tailgating location, and they may not see the bag of trash you kindly bagged up. She recommends putting those bags near the boxes.
“The Athletic Association, University and ASI work very hard to restore this beautiful campus that we all enjoy,” said Brachowski from UGA Athletics.
“I’m an Athens native and have to say how proud I am of folks drive and willingness to work in this community,” said Lane. “Our company does this in a number of regions, and the folks we have in Athens are as dedicated and hardworking as anywhere I know.”
And while everybody is proud of the football team, Brachowski and Lane say there is another team to be proud of. Those dedicated employees, many of whom arrive as early as 5 a.m. on the Sunday morning after the game.
Note: Athens-Clarke County did not respond to repeated inquiries about game day waste management.