From the famous Columns in Francis Quadrangle to Buck’s Ice Cream in Eckles Hall, the University of Missouri is home to a beautiful 1,262 acres and over 30,000 full-time faculty, staff and students. The University of Missouri System spans far and wide outside of Columbia as the System also contains UMKC, UMSL and Missouri S&T. Additionally, we have over 100 MU Extension offices throughout the state providing continuing education for small businesses, farmers, police officers and so many more. With such a large influence throughout Missouri, it makes sense to say the System’s environmental impacts are a collective effort that can only live up to its fullest potential with the help of others.

While MU currently sends approximately 17 tons of material to the landfill each day, sustainability-minded individuals are taking great strides in lowering these statistics. Two ways that the Columbia campus comes together to keep our community environmentally-friendly and thriving are through Tiger Tailgate Recycling and MU Waste Audits. MU Sustainability works to educate others on the importance of reducing consumption when/where possible as well as using products or materials to its fullest life. But even if we reduce our consumption, reuse or purchase second-hand items there are some objects that will need to be recycled. This is where our MU Sustainability programs come into play.

Tiger Tailgate Recycling

Each fall Tiger Tailgate Recycling (TTR) partners and volunteers hand out recycling bags to tailgaters and engage in discussions about the environment to divert recyclables from the landfill.
“Game days are notorious for their high waste production which is why programs such as TTR are so important to support and expand,” said MU Sustainability Graduate Assistant Kathryn Kidd.
In 2005 the student organization Sustain Mizzou started TTR to combat the high waste production prevalent at sporting events. As Sustain Mizzou has expanded their sustainability-focused projects, MU Sustainability now mainly oversees a large portion of the program.

MU Sustainability also works with MU Athletics, MU Facilities and the City of Columbia to make sure TTR has the proper resources to reach the most amount of tailgaters at each game.

“Collaborations such as this are what true sustainability is all about,” Kidd said.

Each TTR shift lasts approximately 1.5 to 2 hours and will end prior to the game even beginning. If you volunteer with TTR you’ll be provided with snacks, water, a t-shirt and free admission to the game. You’ll also gain a better understanding about game day recycling and meet individuals who are just as passionate about sustainability as you are!

“Tailgaters are really receptive of our blue recycling bags and by participating in this program you have the chance to meet some really great people, have conversations surrounding sustainability and make a positive difference in your community,” said MU Sustainability Program Assistant Ashley Craft.

Volunteers can be members of the community, families, student organizations, businesses, students, staff, faculty and alumni. We’ll offer a brief orientation for new volunteers to understand what is/what isn’t recyclable before shifts begin.

Tiger Tailgate Recycling shift times are posted once MU Athletics knows the time of each home game. For more information and to signup for a shift visit: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0d4eafa82fa3f94-tiger

MU Waste Audits

In conjunction with TTR, MU Sustainability performs six-weeks of campus-wide waste audits each semester. Waste audits are vital for our campus community as we try to understand how well each building is recycling at MU and how we can better serve building coordinators and departments so they can in turn improve upon possible areas of weakness.

“Waste audits help the university track the campus recycling rate, which is typically well below the national average,” Kidd said.

When university members better understand how different building practices are affecting recycling rates, changes can be made. And if we would like to raise our 20 percent recycling rate closer to the national average of 34 percent we must see where we are struggling in various campus buildings.

“By having a better idea of what is in our waste stream, we can identify how lucrative it would be to sell recyclables such as metals and plastics,” Kidd added. “We could also identify ways to lower our consumptive waste that would in-turn save the university money. For example, if we find a lot of unused phone books during the waste audit, we can recommend that the university stops purchasing these items that are going straight to the landfill.”

Individuals who volunteer with this portion of our office will sort, weigh and calculate waste and recycling bags so please wear clothes that you are comfortable to move around in. Shifts will be during the weekdays, after determining what times work best for volunteers and our waste audit coordinator. We will provide gloves and cleaning materials.

No previous experience is necessary for this volunteer position as MU Waste Audits serve as an educational opportunity to improve an individual’s recycling skills and sustainability efforts here on campus. For more information on waste audits please email musustainability@missouri.edu.