By Annie Laird
This year, the University of Iowa Sustainability Office and the Homecoming Executive Council have a new goal of making the campus more environmentally conscious during Homecoming.
Denise Cheeseman, the Homecoming Council sustainability director, a new position created this year, works to help advise council members to help implement the new changes for the year, such as new events and making all Homecoming events “zero-waste.”
One such event is the Sustainability Scavenger Hunt 2-4 p.m. Wednesday on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway.
Students who attend the event will be given a card with questions on it, and they will then go to talk to panelists around the walkway to find the answers.
When the card is filled, the student will be given a prize.
Another event in conjunction with the Scavenger Hunt is the Waste Audit.
Beth Mackenzie, the recycling coordinator for the Sustainability Office, said trash bags will be taken out of the Pappajohn Business Building the night before the audit, and students who have signed up beforehand will help sort the trash into different sections: cans, bottles, compost, etc.
Those different categories will then be weighed and measured to see how much was thrown away.
“The goal is to see how much of the trash could have been recycled or composted,” Mackenzie said.
The goal would be to then use the data collected to determine outreach strategies to fix the issues, she said.
Akash Bhalerao, a member of the Homecoming Executive Council, said the council wanted to implement these changes because, in the age of climate change, the issues are more important than ever, and since the council has such a big influence over campus, this was the way to do it.
The Homecoming Council’s main goal is to make everyone on campus more conscious of what’s happening, not just immediately around them, but globally, Bhalerao said.
Mackenzie echoed the belief, saying “throwing things away is something we do on a daily basis. You just want to get rid of it, quick as possible, without thinking about how it affects things beyond that moment.”
One of the other events new to Homecoming Week this year was the planting of a tree on the Pentacrest on Sunday.
“That was a really big deal for us because it’s pretty hard to make changes to the Pentacrest,” Cheeseman said.
She also said organizers hope to be able to plant a new tree every year for Homecoming.
“It’s kind of cool, connected to the idea of Homecoming, because if I come back in 20 years, I can still see that tree I helped plant,” Cheeseman said.
It is often hard for people to really set aside time to think about something so inane as throwing something away instead of recycling it, Mackenzie said, but these two groups hope to make it clear to the campus what a truly pressing issue this is.
“This is not just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do,” Bhalerao said.