EcoReps Zero Waste Event Turns Hockey Rivalry into Waste Reduction


Photo courtesy of Cece Hogan

REDUCING WASTE – Three bins marked for compost, recycling and waste at a past Zero Waste event. EcoReps aims to reduce waste with the event, as well as spread awareness of how to reduce waste in everyday life.

Harry Stine

EcoReps, NMU’s student branch of the Sustainability Advisory Council, has a new event up their sleeve.

On Dec. 2, twelve stations will be set up around the Berry Events Center during the Northern versus Michigan Tech game. Six of the stations will be for Northern, the other six will be for Tech, and whichever college collects the least amount of garbage wins. 

“We have heard that in the past, Tech students will throw more trash in the Northern bins, it gets pretty engaged,” Executive Director Cece Hogan said. “That is the goal … for it to be really interactive and fun, but also a little bit of a learning experience.”

Hogan said that the group chose the Tech hockey game as the backdrop to their competition due to the popularity of the event, which has a strong correlation with the rivalry the two colleges share. Elle Rose Highley, director of marketing and media for EcoReps, backed up this statement.

“The competition is alive in all areas,” Highley said.

But while the two schools are rivals, they may not be enemies. Alan Turnquist, Michigan Tech’s director of sustainability and resilience, has been in contact with EcoReps, gathering volunteers on his campus as well as starting discussions about further collaborations.

“We also hope that this event serves as a jumping off point for an ongoing and long lasting relationship between advocates for sustainability at NMU and MTU,” Hogan said.

Hogan credits Northern’s Facilities Department, particularly Associate Director Brandon Sager, as being a huge source of help from supplying bins to lending a hand in collaborating with companies for the Zero Waste event.

With bins supplied for the event, and their goal of 50 volunteers covering the stations and staff table, the event is all ready for this Friday. Volunteers will be identified at the game by white Zero Waste t-shirts.

The volunteers will be placed two to each station, and there will be a second shift that replaces the people at each station. Volunteers will create accountability for what goes into the bins, and let passersby know which things they want to throw out are compostable, and what is simply waste.

Members of the second shift will help clean up the stands before passing the collected waste over to Recycle 906, a local organization with similar eco-friendly goals. From there, the waste will be processed and they will share the data concerning weight with EcoReps. 

Hogan added that during 2019’s Zero Waste event, 93% of waste was collected away from the landfill. Meeting or even exceeding that number is a goal for this year’s game, as well as spreading awareness about composting on campus, especially that done in NMU Dining. 

“Our dining hall now composts all pre- and post-consumer waste, which many students don’t know,” Hogan said. “This development came from a Green Fund proposal generated by a student, which the Sustainability Advisory Council adapted to encompass the entirety of the dining hall.”

Hogan hopes the event will cause attendees to change up their habits concerning waste disposal, and maybe even bring us closer to a more sustainable future.