Sustainability Council Set to Host Annual Zero Waste Basketball Game


Courtesy of Laurence Kesterson/AP Photo

The Zero Waste Game will be held on March 1.

Lydia McFarlane, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, March 1, the University’s men’s basketball team will be playing its final home game of the regular season. While this is a milestone for obvious reasons, this game is special for other reasons as well: it is this season’s designated “2022 VU Zero Waste Basketball Game.”

Villanova’s approach to sustainability exemplifies an emphasis on social justice and community service,” the Sustainability Leadership Council said.

In line with its mission statement, the University’s sustainability office coordinated the no waste game and created a digital signup sheet for students who wanted to volunteer to help.  Although the signup sheet has since been filled up, several students who did sign up will be getting the opportunity to help Villanova Sustainability in its efforts during the no waste game on March 1, and it also will be given standing room tickets to the final home game, which will be held at 7 p.m. in the Finneran Pavilion against Providence. The volunteer positions consist of pregame setup, game time trash sorting and post-game sorting. The volunteers will sort through the waste, which will then be processed and weighed for documentation.  

Liesel Schwarz, the University’s campus sustainability manager, shared that the University has been holding zero waste games since as far back as 2015. The Pavilion was closed for renovation, so after three years of zero waste games with a brief pause for the renovation, zero waste games were started back up again in 2020, but again took another pause due to the pandemic. This year’s zero waste game will be the first since 2020. 

“A zero waste game is when 90% or more of the waste is diverted from the trash stream,” Schwarz said. “Our trash goes to the Covanta facility in Plymouth Meeting. Instead, we will divert as much of the game time waste to recycling or composting. This is done in partnership with Athletics and Spectra, who will alter the game’s food service to include more compostable solutions.” 

The results of the zero waste game days are quite impressive. The results can be found through the Recyclemania “Game Day Basketball Competition.” In 2020, the sustainability team accomplished a 90.35% diversion rate of the waste from the game. That is an incredibly high percentage of waste diversion, which will hopefully be even higher for this year’s no waste game. The University’s sustainability team encourages students to take away an invigorated environmental and waste consciousness after this year’s game. 

“As a general rule, it is helpful to think about waste management not from the perspective of ‘is this recyclable?’ but rather, what can I do to eliminate the need to throw this item out,” Schwarz advised. “I like to say ‘Reduce, Reuse, and THEN Recycle.’ It is easy to forget that the three R’s are in that order for a reason. Students and event officials need to explore ways to reduce and reuse the waste we typically generate at games and in our daily lives, because many times recycling or composting aren’t a good solution to much of the waste we generate. Focusing on reducing our overall waste is where the conversation needs to start.” 

Zero waste games are common at institutions with high profile athletics, and this is even higher motivation for students to do their part. 

“Zero waste games are common occurrences among institutions with strong athletic programs,” Schwarz said. “We of course want Villanova to be number one in every way, and that includes in our efforts to reduce waste.” 

As a spectator at the 2022 no waste basketball game and every other athletic game throughout the year, be sure to make good choices regarding waste and be more conscious of individual contributions to the amount of waste produced by the University itself.