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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Someone’s trash, another’s purpose

Students+and+community+members+gather+around+the+indoor+rock+wall+at+the+PEIF+for+the+Coffee+and+Climb+event.+
Students and community members gather around the indoor rock wall at the PEIF for the Coffee and Climb event.

Zero Waste Challenge hopes to recycle and sort the trash during the NMU vs. Bowling Green men’s ice hockey game.

When we go to hockey games, it’s a tradition to stock up on the goodies at the concession during intermission. We grab a soda and an order of nachos. But when the last chip is gone and all is left is crumbs in a manufactured plastic dish and barren ice at the bottom of our cup, our nature is to throw it away in the nearest garbage can. Perhaps there’s another use for that dish and cup. An NMU organization has been brainstorming ways to reduce the amount of waste at sporting events and will put their initiatives to the test at the upcoming hockey game this Friday night.

The Zero-Waste Challenge at the NMU vs. Bowling Green Men’s hockey game will take place at the Berry Events Center and will be coordinated by EcoReps. The group is a student sustainability program designed to give students resources and knowledge to solve sustainability issues both on campus and in the community. The goal of this event is to educate students and the community of Marquette on taking the right steps to sustainable initiatives.

Anyone is welcome to participate, no prior experience or knowledge is required. By volunteering, participants will receive a t-shirt and they’ll also teach others how to sort their trash into compostable and recycle materials in order to reduce the amount of waste that’s dumped into the landfill. The goal is to get that amount as close to zero as possible.

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“There are many reasons people should care: recycling and composting save large amounts of energy and keep reusable materials out of the waste stream. Keeping waste out of the landfill can also reduce the emission of hazardous gases and byproducts, while recycling plastics can prevent plastic products from breaking down into microplastics that can create serious problems in the environment,” sophomore anthropology major and EcoReps student coordinator Isabelle Ureel said.

During the hockey game, there will be an information table and several sorting stations around the Berry Events Center where EcoReps and volunteers will help attendees sort their waste into three categories: recycling, composting and trash, Ureel said, adding, they will also answer any questions people may have.

NMU Dining Services have partnered with EcoReps for this event and will use compostable and recyclable materials such as serving food in cardboard containers or on compostable plates, Ureel noted. At each sorting station, EcoReps and volunteers will organize compostable materials like food products and recyclable goods such as water bottles. The only waste that this event can’t prevent from ending up in the landfill is plastics such as candy wrappers, she added.

This event is a force of a community coming together, Ureel said. Along with NMU Dining Services, the Sustainability Advisory Council (SAC) and Marquette County Solid Waste Management are partnering together to make this event possible. Though the SAC first hosted the Zero Waste Challenge events, EcoReps hopes to broaden this initiative to other sporting events such as adding basketball games or hosting more hockey games, Ureel said.

A large part of the organization is coordinating events, volunteering and promoting a more responsible attitude to the sustainability culture to students and the community. Senior environmental science major and EcoReps co-coordinator Olivia Walcott has been involved with this event since it launched back in 2017 and has climbed the ladder from being selected to join the President’s Sustainability Advisory Council to now overseeing the implementation of the EcoReps program. It’s been a “full experience” for Walcott as this is the third time participating and the second time coordinating the event’s organization, Walcott said.

“The Zero Waste Games serve as a model for how we could divert more waste in the future. Unfortunately, in the Upper Peninsula we don’t currently have a facility that could regularly accept the amount of compost that NMU would produce,” Walcott said.

Though it may seem like a challenge to host an event like this, the establishment of partnership through these Zero Waste games have only benefitted EcoReps and the “institutional support” the program receives allows for it to continue pursuing sustainability efforts, Walcott added.

“EcoReps hopes to cultivate a culture of sustainability at Northern. This is to say, in everything we do we hope that it creates a ripple effect throughout campus and in the wider community,” Walcott said.

To volunteer at the Zero Waste Challenge hockey game, register at nmu.edu/skillbuilders. And for those interested in joining EcoReps, applications for the 2019-2020 academic year will be available mid-February. Students can sign up for email alerts about application availability and the EcoReps newsletter by emailing [email protected].

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